One project I quietly work on is my Northanger Abbey modernization that I might be co-writing with a friend. We are turning it into a story about modern ghost hunting and haunted home fans. New England, and Massachusetts specifically, is a great place to do this kind of research because our communities are so old. One stop I wanted to make was into Salem, MA. You know it for the history of the Salem witchcraft scares and trials before the USA was even a country. There is more there and they have an entire tourism industry based on all of it. From Pirates to haunted homes, this place needs a few visits to really get all the research I need.
I went this October to see friends who are in town from the west coast. In fact, I will be seeing them again in L.A. when I visit. We had a day to spent together, so we planned a few things to see while in Salem. First, we wanted to do some of the museums about the history of Salem. There were three: The Salem Witch History (the only one I have never been to in the 15 years I have lived here), The New England Pirate Museum, and the Salem Witch Village. All three have indoor guided tours. Second, we wanted to visit the House of Seven Gables and take the tour. Plus, we wanted to relax with each other and buy things we didn’t need. Obviously we had a great time and saw everything we wanted. We had a nice lunch and bought plenty of things we didn’t need (and didn’t buy things I couldn’t justify brining into my house).
Bellow you can see some of the pictures including some lovely shots of bees and butterflies in the mid-autumn gardens at the House of Seven Gables. I learned a lot about tours in homes and museums from the visit. I wanted to see if from the tourist side, with research in mind. I paid attention to the dramatic way the tour guides presented information. I watched an poorly informed tour guide get corrected by participants. I watched to see how these museums, many of which have been open since the 70s, have evolved even in the few years I have been around. They aren’t just trying to make money on the hysteria, but to use them to promote tolerance and acceptance.
I have all these notes of things I want to incorporate into this story or who the characters in my story will be because of what I saw. For example, our tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, left out key facts or didn’t know the answer to questions asked. She fumbled often to remember what to say in certain spaces and we felt both rushed into one space and then left in silence while we waited for the next room to be available. I realized that, with timed tours, each room constantly has a tour group in it and the timing of the moves is something they are all aware of. Yet, she should have had enough knowledge to keep talking to us while we waited. We walked away from the tour sharing details she had left off that I had either heard on previous tours (I’ve been on this one many times and love it) or that other people knew from their own knowledge/tour experience.
Am I ready to move forward on the story? It’s difficult to say. I know the direction I’m going with the story and I have a sense of where my co-writer wants to go, but we have different commitments to the project. I’m constantly fleshing out my details and will be sharing more through the year. If all goes as I hope, this will be next year’s NaNoWriMo project in November! Enjoy the pictures I have to share. In the comments, let me know things you like in Salem or wish you could visit there!
Salem Trip 2017