Now I had the characters, their home base, and some backstory, but it had to be fleshed out if the characters were to be believable. I did some research on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the 1920s at the Talbot County Library and found out the basics, then went looking for Max and Allison’s house. It had to be near St Michaels, but in an area rural enough to accomodate Gypsy, their war-surplus biplane. It had to be an old fsashioned wooden house with a large porch, since some of the action involved people coming and going to their front door, or Max and Allison conversing in wicker chairs as the sun went down. We found the perfect house in Claiborne, a Bed and Breakfast called Claiborne Cottage on the Bay. It happens that the owner was someone we knew, so obtaining permission to use and photograph it was no problem.
Having a specific house in mind was important to help visualize the action, and to keep details consistant from one story to the next. You can’t have the front door on the left side one time and the right side another.
One more research path was necessary. What was the world of flying like in the 1920s? Did they even have airports? How did the pilot in the rear cockpit of a Curtiss Jenny communicate with the passenger or co pilot in the front cockpit? We found a man who was a former aviation restoration specialist at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and dropped by his place (also on the Eastern Shore). He was currently restoring a 1930s biplane that had belonged to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, so he knew his stuff. He regaled us with flying stories and told us some tales and details about the early days of flight that would find their way into the books.
Now the characters, their home, their backgrounds and their interests had taken shape, it was time to let them loose. The question was what true crime to use as the first adventure? Look for part 4 and find out.