Thursday, September 22, 2011

Researching Fairmount

My Kelly O'Connell mysteries are set in Fairmount, a national historic district just blocks from my house. The photos above shows a typical row of houses and a restaurant on Magnolia Avenue (photos by Polly Hooper). Because I cut through the back streets all the time and eat in the neighborhood's restaurants, I'd tell you I know it well. But this morning I had a few questions in my mind, so I drove through Fairmount, paying particular attentiont to small businesses that line Magnolia Avenue, the major street that marks the neighborhood's northern boundary. And yes, I noticed new things, had new ideas. Then I came home and did some online research on Fairmount, national historic districts in general, and the League of Neighborhood Associations in Fort Worth. Learned some interesting things: at one square mile, Fairmount is the largest national historic district in the Southwest; listing on the National Registry of Historic Districts does not empower that registry to enforce restrictiosn, nor does listing on the state registry. Such power is handled locally. The Fairmount Neighborhood Association has guidelines but no rules; it encourages retaining original wooden windows and doors, columns and chimneys, for instance, and discourages painting brick not previously painted, use of metal or vinyl siding, and enclosing porches. Of course you can find some of those things done throughout the neighborhood, but in general folks abide by the guidelines. They're proud of their neighborhood.
All this works well for my plot in the current work-in-progress where a developer wants to put a big-box shopping center on Magnolia Avenue--you can imagine Kelly's reaction to that!
I'm 23,000 words into the first draft, have to turn in the completed final draft, at about 70,000 words, by March 15. That will be here sooner than I know.
Highlight of my day: giving the puppy a bath with Jacob's help. We both ended up giggling and sopping wet, while the poor puppy kept trying to climb out of the tub. She had gotten muddy this morning because the sprinkler system had been on earlier and left the ground wet. We toweled her off and tried to brush her, but as Jacob said, "This isn't working." Then he took her outside to play, emptied the outside water dish, and made more mud for her to roll in. Swell.
An evening of writing lies ahead: I'm looking forward to it.

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