I have written several short stories centered on my hometown. While I have been careful not to use the actual names of people, but still used the names of actual places.
My question is this. Can I use the name of my actual town without fear of being sued by the city? My tales are horror in nature and are not generally flattering to my hometown. I realize that I cannot use the name of the mayor, but if I have a fictional mayor doing stupid acts how dangerous is that for me legally?
Also, how dangerous is it for me to use actual product names? Can I say he drank a Coke or Pepsi? I recall Kevin Smith talking about how he was writing a Green Arrow comic book and wanted one of the characters to discuss Strawberry Shortcake (the children’s toy) and WB forced him to call the toy Blueberry Pancakes.