After high school, I became a college student at a Texas university that was not Texas A&M. I did not travel to A&M for any academic reason, before I earned my degree. Nor did I ever travel to A&M for any sports reason (but you’ve already figured this out, right?)
After I earned my bachelor’s degree, I never traveled to Texas A&M for any reason—academic, athletic, or business-related.
You guys note a trend?
My latest book, What You Want Most: Magically Given, is a variation on the three-wishes genie story. In What You Want Most, my hero Brian lives in Texas, then he becomes a college student, then he majors in meteorology (the science of weather). A little Google-fu told me that the best meteorology undergraduate-degree program in Texas is at A&M—so voila, Brian drives off to Aggieland to pursue his B.S. in Meteorology.
This plot turn meant that I, as Brian’s author, had to learn a lot about A&M. Fortunately, Google made this part of the story-writing be much easier.
Now, I prefer to have my imaginary people live in imaginary places; this way I can “build” their hometown the way I want. If I want to write about Marvin Harper’s hometown of New Paris, “There was a gold mine just outside of town, so all the streets in the town were paved with gold,” I can do that. Whereas if I write such a thing about Lincoln, Nebraska (because I did not do enough research), a reader who lives in Lincoln will chew me out via email. And deservedly so. To prevent errors that Google-searching doesn’t catch, I need to see a real place for myself if I write about that place.
But there are obvious limits to the rule of “When writing about a real place, see it for yourself.” In “Kristin Tells (Almost) All,” the main character became a student at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Well, I live in Texas, and traveling all the way to Northampton, MA just so I could eyeball places that I had written about, was not a worthwhile expense.
But now that same logic has bitten me in the rear; because Texas A&M is less than two hundred miles from my house. Yesterday I went to Aggieland itself, with a prepared list of questions. Because I had done so much research off-site, I was able to get all my questions answered in only three-and-a-half hours. I also visited places on the A&M campus that I had written about; the “Century Tree” (which is actually 126 years old, not 100 years old) freaked me out.
Still, nobody imagines the author of male-dominant, mind-control soft-core porn novels making a research trip, but that’s what I did. I think I’ve caught most of my mistakes, BUT—
If you’re a fan of male-dominant, mind-control soft-core porn, and—
You’re a current or former student of Texas A&M University, and—
You catch an error about what I wrote about A&M, after my book comes out, then—
Please let me know. Thanks.
P.S. Don’t ask me my impressions of Texas A&M. I can’t answer this honestly without somebody’s feelings being hurt.