Sunday, July 17, 2011

On Location with Howard Shrier

Scouting Locations

Location has been critical in all my books, whether in Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Boston -- where my upcoming Geller book, Boston Cream, is set -- or Montreal, where book four takes place. And my standalone thriller Lostport, coming this summer as an amazon e-book, is set on the Erie Canal northeast of Buffalo.

All of these took extensive research and visits. In some cases, I conducted searches like a film location scout, pounding the streets or driving around with a camera and voice recorder. And nowhere more so than in Toronto.

Take the climactic scene in Buffalo Jump, when Jonah Geller and a half-blind Dante Ryan flee two gunmen in the Don Valley where the river, Pottery Road and the railroad converge. It couldn't have happened anywhere else. My friend Karl Thompson and I drove for hours near the waterfront to find out where Simon Birk's towers were going to be built, and I walked some fifty miles in five days in Chicago, documenting every construction project in a city where the skyscraper, to find the site of Birk's unfinished tower.

I've been lucky to know people in Boston and upstate New York who've been enormously helpful. We would talk about plot and they would come up with ideas of places for me to visit. Lostport is based on a canal town called Lockport, which I never would have discovered if not for my wife's relatives in Buffalo. And her contacts in Boston led me right to Summit Path, which plays a critical role in Boston Cream, coming January 31 from Random House.

Howard was born and raised in Montreal, where he earned an Honours Degree in Journalism and Creative Writing at Concordia University. He began his writing career in 1979 as a crime reporter for a Montreal daily and has since worked in a wide variety of media, including journalism, theatre, television, sketch comedy and improv. He has also been a senior communications advisor to government agencies. Howard now lives in Toronto with his wife and sons. Please visit his website at

(Also check out H2Ontario - an article about Toronto's waterfront by Howard Shrier)

1 comment:

  1. Research is a great excuse to travel. I'm looking forward to writing off a trip to El Paso, Texas.