I am told that in a well-written story, setting is the fourth essential element. It tells the reader where and when the story takes place and even implies the mood of each scene or sequel. It almost becomes another character. So how do I write accurate settings for a story that unfolded before I was born in places I’ve never seen? The answer is research, research, research. My most obvious resource for this information was my mother-in-law, a living, breathing person. However, our discussions often led to more questions than answers. Did it make sense to place a landslide in a location that was prairie? How about vomiting into a river that was hundreds of miles from the described action? And a shrug in response to my questions about why did she take this trip at all? It suddenly dawned on me that a road trip was in my future. I needed to see specific places and photograph potential dwellings and absorb the flavor of the locals. So my husband and I started out on a road trip to collect the settings for this story. The plot thickens.