You may have already seen the walking tour of Harper Blaine’s stomping grounds around Pioneer Square in Seattle—it’s up on YodioTours.com. I think it’s kind of a fun experience and it’s one of those funny little projects where one little connection grew into a whole chain of opportunities. Marianne asked me to say a bit about the tour and how it happened, so here goes….
The project sort of fell into my lap back in November 2010 when I got an e-mail from Yodio founder Clay Loges. He’s a Seattle guy and he frequents Seattle Mystery Bookshop, which is not only a favorite of mine, but it’s located in Harper’s working neighborhood and gets mentioned in one of the books, since Harper is a Mystery reader herself. Clay was looking for offbeat material for new tours; new ways to connect to customers with content that was not the usual historical or quick highlights kind of thing. He thought using fiction that was set in Seattle might be a fun angle and he asked the staff which series might be a good fit and were written by local authors who might be interested in creating a tour based on their books. I was one of the authors the staff recommended since they like my books, but they also know they’re pretty accurate about the area and history of Pioneer Square.
Clay got in touch with me and we met over coffee to discuss the idea. I’m not sure he was that excited by me initially, since I get pitched by a lot of people who have ideas that propose to bring me fame and fortune at only the cost of my time, copyright, effort, or endorsement, so I may have come off a bit aloof. Most of these sorts of pitches are scams and I often end up saying “no.” This time, since I needed to do nothing but take some photos and write a script, I figured it wouldn’t be much of a risk, so I said “sure.” I had no idea how much more fun it was going to be than I thought.
I spent some time walking around Pioneer Square on my proposed route, taking photos, and then looking over a sample script to get a feel for the format and timing before writing a script of my own. While I was doing it, I began to remember all the reasons I’d first decided to set a book here—the historic district of Seattle is funky, strange, and full of bizarre thing, bits of history, and the outright silly. Writing up the script was a lot of fun.
Clay and I exchanged a lot of e-mails picking the photos and make note of photos we needed to get, then matching up the photos to the script and editing it to create an informative and fun tour with a route that would take an average person about 45 minutes to cover if they didn’t linger or take any detours. This was more like work, but not exactly the kind you dread and mostly it took no more than an hour or two once the original script was created.
I decided to write the script in a casual style as if I were actually walking along with the user through Pioneer Square. I’ve actually done this with a few fans and it’s a lot of fun. The “voice” of the tour is fun and informative and just a little goofy here and there—just like it would be in person. Because I’m a little goofy too and how serious can you really be when you’re talking about books that feature monsters in the sewer, insecure vampires, and ghosts of dead bootleggers?
It took about 4 months to get the whole thing together, including adding a few missed photos and recording the audio—which I did with Clay on my boat. Clay assembled the final pieces and then published the tour to the YodioTours site. So far it hasn’t made any money for me, but it was still a lot of fun to create and I might even do another one if I have the chance—after all, I’ve written six books with this character and she’s gone out of town to London and now to the Olypmic Peninnsula which would also be fun to revist. In the meantime, I’ve referred a few other writers and historians—including the head historian of the Underground Tour who helped me with the research on one of the Greywalker books and who is also a great friend of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop staff—to Clay and I hope they have as much fun getting the landscape of their own books out to others as I’ve had.
The funniest thing about doing the tour was rediscovering things about the area that I’d almost forgotten since I’d written the first three books. I’ve spent so much of my time on later books that I’d begun to forget my own backstory. So now I feel like I’ve had a chance to reacquaint myself with my characters and their town and… I still like them. Which is a nice thing to realize after all this time.
My thanks to Marianne for letting me chatter about this, here. I hope you enjoyed it.
Kat Richardson is the Bestselling author of the Greywalker paranormal detective novels. A former theater brat, magazine editor, and English Country dancer who escaped from LA, she now lives on a boat (not a houseboat) in the Seattle area with her husband and the ghosts of ferrets.