Getting your Research on Route 66 – Guest Blogger Darlene Franklin

Our guest this week is Darlene Franklin, author of contemporary mysteries. She is giving away a free copy of her e-book, the Dressed for Death 3-in-1, so make sure you leave a comment with your email address.


Once I got the contract for the Dressed for Death mystery series, I went on a research trip. Why not, since I would get to visit my son along the way? I had set my fictional town of Grace Gulch, Oklahoma, in Lincoln County, a short distance from my son’s home. In order to get a feel for the county, I followed Route 66 instead of the more commonly used turnpike to head from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.

The two-hour trip took two days, stopping at all the sights and restaurants mentioned in the travel guides. Something I noticed but that’s not mentioned in any books: the change from red clay to brown soil, as if I had passed a geographical boundary. I might buy an “Oklahoma red clay” shirt one of these days.

When I found a gulch-like setting along the way, I took as many pictures as possible. An incredibly green and lush spot, I used it as the setting for the Grace-Gaynor land dispute in the books.

I included as many of the tourist destination as possible in the series, like the red barn in Arcadia. I’m still not sure why it’s famous, but the big, round, bright red barn in the middle of town certainly catches the eye.

I had the most fun in the town that turned out to be the inspiration for the animated movie Cars. I stayed in the place that looked like the car hotels. Ah, the magic of the the screen, that can change Oklahoma’s green country to an Arizona desert. What a hoot! That restaurant had signed autographs and other paraphernalia from the movie staff.

I took the trip at just the right time. When I returned with my family a few years later, my favorite restaurant had been torn down by a tornado and another had gone of business. I expected forty-year-old landmarks to last longer.

I stopped by Pawnee as well, but the highlight of the trip was definitely my life in the movies.



Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.

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