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!

16 Responses to “Write What You Know?”

  1. Starr Ambrose blogs with Wild on Books! | Jennifer A. Ray Says:

    […] author Starr Ambrose when she guest blogs with Wild on […]

  2. Jennifer A. Ray Says:

    Starr Ambrose said: “…because what’s romance without laughter and sex, and what’s a story without a litte danger?”

    OK, I think I will really like your book after reading that! :) Not to mention I heard great things about it from one of our reviewers, Natalie.

    And I am giggling picturing a butler working the stables… LOL

    Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Starr!

  3. Natalie S. Says:

    Hi Starr! I got to read and review LIE TO ME and I loved every single world of it! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

    Natalie S.

  4. Natalie S. Says:

    OY. NOT world.


    I loved the words. LOL

    Natalie S. <– it’s way early sorry. 😕

  5. Cheryl Smith Says:

    I’m about a third of the way through Lie To Me and am really enjoying it! I’m not sure if it’s better to write what you know or write what you love. When you love the story, it shows, and the readers will love it too!

  6. Philly Says:

    So funny! That image of a butler cleaning horse stalls…Would he be wearing his uniform?
    I loved LIE TO ME, and I can’t wait to read the next one. Very sexy, fun and suspenseful.

  7. Philly Says:

    Question: the hero Jack Payton is such a sexy guy, was there a real person he’s modeled on?

  8. Robbie Terman Says:

    Part of the enjoyment of reading a book is getting a glimpse into a life that is different than yours, so of course it is more fun to write characters completely opposite of you! As someone who lives a few miles from Bloomfield Hills, you really nailed it. And if there are heros like Jack walking around, I’m going to be hanging out there a lot more! What a great read!

  9. Carol Jo Kachmar Says:

    If we all had to write what we know, where would historical writers like me land? I go with “Write what you love”, and the book sounds great even if I also have never lived the high life. Hurrah for you, and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  10. Starr Ambrose Says:

    Thanks for the great review, Natalie! Jennifer, I think Mr. Peters might draw the line at shoveling manure, but it’s still a fond wish of mine. Glad you like it, Cheryl! And Robbie, it’s good to have my impressions of B.H. seconded!
    Philly, questions like that could get me in trouble! I truly wish I knew Jack Payton, but alas, he is merely an invention. But let’s say the best parts of him are based on my husband!

  11. Judith Says:

    😯 What? Writing about something you don’t live with everyday? What shame! I write about elves, other worlds, demons, werewolves…well, the list goes on and on. I have some really good friends from places you wouldn’t believe!

    Your books sound great! Wishing you the very best with it!


  12. Liz H. Says:

    Hi, Starr! Lie to Me was a sexy, suspenseful read, so I guess writing what you *don’t* know first-hand works! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Starr Ambrose book!

  13. Starr Ambrose Says:

    Thanks so much, Liz! Carol Jo, you’re so right about writing within the confines of a different place and time. Historical writers have my sincere respect. And Judith, you have the best way ever of circumventing that problem! Although I can’t say I need any additional weird creatures crawling through my mind.

    Either we’re all rebels, or NO ONE takes that advice about writing what you know!

  14. Diane Says:

    Hi Starr ! I am really enjoying ‘Lie to Me’. Love the interaction between the hero and the heroine. Just like you said: “With laughter and sex thrown in.” Great. Can’t wait for the next one to come out.

  15. Patti S Says:

    Starr, this was a fun, fast and sexy read. And yup, I know some of those Bloomfield Hills types personally and you nailed them right on the head! I loved Lie To Me and am looking forward to reading every book you ut out there! Happy Holidays!

  16. Starr Ambrose Says:

    Thanks, Diane and Patti! It’s such a kick to know your story has entertained someone. I’m looking forward to writing more!

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