Write What You Know?Posted by: Starr Ambrose
It’s one of the first things they tell you about writing – write what you know. Boy, did I ever break the rules!
My book, LIE TO ME, takes place in an exclusive neighborhood, and involves the lives of wealthy, powerful people. People just like me!
Pause several minutes to ROFL.
I didn’t invent Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It exists, and is home to many rich and influential people, including some whose names you might recognize. But I don’t live there. I live a short drive away on a small farm outside of a little town. I don’t drive a Mercedes, I drive a pickup truck. And if I had a proper English butler like the one at the Westfield mansion, I wouldn’t know what to do with him – but I might start by having him clean horse stalls in the morning while I sleep in.
I also don’t know any Colombian drug runners or jewel thieves, but they’re part of my story. So is a corporate executive, a sheriff, a society matron, and an ex-con. Write what you know? Not yet!
A good friend of mine wishes I would write a story about some of the crazy things I’ve done, like trapping and releasing the raccoons that raid my barn, or the hawk that strayed into my chicken coop. Or hooking our huskies up to a dog sled and tearing down the snow-covered back roads. But that’s my life, not my fantasy, and it’s harder for me to see the story potential in that. So I’ll admit that I wrote about a life I haven’t lived and know little about – and neither did my heroine, which meant I could identify with how completely stunned she felt to be thrown into that world. Combine that with some research and a lot of imagination, and presto, you’ve got Eleanore Coggins of Traverse City meeting the Payton-Westfields of Bloomfield Hills in a collision of culture, morals, and determined wills. With some laughs and sex thrown in, of course, because what’s romance without laughter and sex, and what’s a story without a litte danger? You might as well be cleaning stalls. I do enough of that, thanks!