It’s certainly easier to write about the places I know. Even in Portland, Oregon, though, I have to go out on the streets, walk around, go into the restaurants and coffee shops and bookstores I’m setting parts of the story in. (Ah, the joys of this kind of research!)
When I’ve set scenes in Chicago and Mississippi, and even in China, in Safely Home, I’ve had to go to those places to see them first hand, and soak in the atmosphere. In Edge of Eternity, an otherworldly novel of mine which people tend to either love or hate, I invented an entire world. This is not easy, and you have to grab onto lots of particularities to make it seem real to the reader.