There's an old adage "Write what you know." Here's a cat, presumably writing a book about cats, (Of course, I could be wrong. She could be writing a book about art or history or politics but I don't think so.)
How important is it that a novelist has lived and experienced what she's writing about? When I think of medical thrillers (Tess Gerritsen, Robin Cook) I know that the writers were practicing physicians before taking up their writing career. Would they be able to set the scene so vividly and write with such passion if they hadn't? Probably not.
The same with legal thrillers. Scott Turow and John Grisham have logged some serious hours in the courtroom. Their books are filled with details that only a lawyer--or someone with heavy-duty legal experience--could know. There are some things you just can't fake.
I did a piece for NPR on "novels set in South Beach," and I chose all South Beach writers. You can read it and listen to it by clicking on the NPR link above. The writers--Caridad Pineiro, Brian Antoni and Barbara Parker--bring something special to the table because they've lived in South Beach. What do they bring? Not just street names and landmarks but the sounds of the city, the clinking of glasses at the outdoor cafes, the softly swaying palm trees, the excitement of a street fair at Calle Ocho, the glitzy clubs at night.
In my own Talk Radio Mysteries, I draw on my love for Florida. Dr. Maggie's from New York but she loves Florida and escaped to Cypress Grove, a small south Florida town, to host a radio talk show. At first, she has trouble dealing with small town life (think Mayberry) but she quickly realizes she is exactly where she is supposed to be. DEAD AIR is the first book in the series.
My first job out of college was working as a radio copywriter in Nashville, Tenn, so I use some of those experiences, too.
The fun and excitement and mishaps of live radio make it into the Talk Radio series as Dr. Maggie deals with a feisty producer and some wacky guests.
In the latest Talk Radio release, A Deadly Fundraiser, I came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt in a lovely mansion. Why? Because I'd just visited an historic mansion here in Delaware and created a scavenger hunt as part of a fundraiser for an animal shelter. Art imitates life once more!
How about you? Do you enjoy reading about places you've been to? Reliving fun vacations or interesting trips? Writing about Florida gives me a wonderful excuse to go back there! Next week, I'll talk about dreams and how I came up with the idea for the Dream Club Mysteries. Until then, stay tuned.