None of my stories take place anywhere near where I live. I can't put a story here - it's just wrong. I know many of you do place your characters in your own 'backyard' but I can't seem to be able to. All my plots take place overseas (and at least 60 years ago)- which makes research a mite tricky.
I've scoured the web for photos (thank you Google maps), read countless travelogues. perused through old magazines but I can't actually go there. I have found the British TV series "Foyle's War" to be immensely helpful - for what I can see in the background. By the way, if you want to enjoy a fantastic mystery series watch it!
The actual house in my first book is fictional - but it's placed outside a real village - but I need the village and countryside of 60 years ago. Here's the rub: I understand that if your story takes place in New York or Chicago or Paris you'd better get the location (i.e. street names, intersections, etc.) correct if you don't want to upset the citizens of that fair city, let alone anyone who has ever visited there. My story takes place in the past. I can make it as correct as possible, but aside from time travel I'm fairly stuck. I do plan to travel to check the topography of the area and to answer certain questions - what birds can I see? Is the river fast-flowing or slow? How cold is it?
How much fact should be in our fiction? How much fact is in yours? Do you stick rigidly to reality or do you play with it a smidgen?