Write what you know - they teach you in creative writing courses - and I agree with it half way, but I also think you should write about what you don't know but want to know. However, the latter topic is for another blog post. This one is about location, location, location. Where you set your novels and have your characters suffer through their agonies and relish their victories.
Shaman Circus takes place partly in Greenville, SC and partly in New Orleans.
Most of Shaman Circus was written while I worked as a barista at Quarter Moon Coffee located at the Greenville/Spartanburg airport and as a shift manager at The Village Cup. I lived in the blue house on the left at the time. It was white then. The house is featured in the book as the home of Lily and Alex Hampton.
The camelback shotgun house on the right, is similar to the house where Mavis lives. She has an art studio in the second floor. She lived here in New Orleans prior, during and after Katrina. And there's a good bit from her perspective as she is trapped in her attic in the aftermath.
I've learned from other locations that photos should be taken. Many of the locations are gone, have moved or have been sold. I never imagined while I wrote the book thet they would no longer exist or be the same.
For example Earshot Records where three of the characters have a pivotal scene is not longer there. I have a photo of the outside but not of the Morrocan interior.
I'm curious as to how other writers choose their locations and if they draw from their lives or make them up.