I have discovered that I have a particular pet peeve about books set in places I know. I expect them to be right. If you’re describing a real place, a real street, a real region, a real country, then you need to do your research. You need to know what time the sun sets there, for your time of the year. You need to know the local language and customs. You need to research, research, research.
Because if you don’t, some of your audience are going to know, and they’re going to be a vocal part of your audience. They will hate with a passion and they will shout it from the roof tops. They will be so distracted by the errors, that they won’t be able to see the good things about your book.
If you don’t know a place intimately, and you aren’t going to research, then make up the place. Make it ‘like’ a known place that you model it after, if you want, but don’t give it the same name. Because if you make mistakes, people are going to jump all over that.
Man, I hope there are none of those moments in my books! I think I’ve kept close to what I know, and researched for everything I needed to check. I hope my settings stand up to my own standards.