Trap Streets are fake streets drawn into a map and given a false name. If this street appears in another map somewhere else in the world, the cartographer knows that his work has been pilfered. Or, it’s a street populated by refugee aliens that’s been protected by an otherworldly entity/technology, I’m still not clear on that.
Like many authors, I like to use real locations in stories. People from the area can better visualize themselves in the familiar surroundings and people who are not from the area will hopefully learn a little about the setting. At the very least, it’s a lot easier remembering the names of streets and places that I’ve been to, but I don’t always remain faithful to the geography.
In The Sweetest Death, most of the places in that book are actual locations that you can find in the North Shore. Salem Willows, the Beverly/Salem Bridge, the China Buffet, and my friend’s AirBnB are faithfully depicted to the best of my literary ability. But the pub with the upstairs apartments and the fudge shop are both fictional versions of their real life counterparts.
Similarly, Survive by the Sword takes place in Southern Vermont, though I am very vague about some locations. For example, Ainsely-Court Theater (which so far has only been mentioned but not actually visited in the story) is the fictional counterpart to Old Castle Theater Company.
The reason I have changed the name is that it gives me a sense of freedom over the building. Naming locations is one thing, because you can stick a house that doesn’t exist on Fleet Street in Framingham and no one is going to blink an eye. But if I set the story at the Plummer House for Boys, a real historic location found on Winter Island in Salem, Massachusetts and for some unexplained reason I have girls living there, then people will rightly call foul and my TVtropes page is going to include Critical Research Failure among other things.
Unless otherwise stated, either in the blog, or in an interview, or at that book signing of the distant future in which I finally get to meet all of my reader, every location I depict is subject to having a few Trap Streets. They exist to show you a wonderful story in a certain place and time, but by no means can you visit them without the aid of your imagination… and maybe a man with a blue box, but that’s up to you to arrange.