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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Write What You Know... Or Not

The advice "write what you know" has been handed down for generations. But in reality, how many writers stick to that advice?

I write suspense/thrillers, which includes at least one murder (and usually more) in each book. They've been shot, stabbed, poisoned, their deaths made to look like accidents... But I've never actually DONE any of those crimes. I research quite a bit, looking at police reports, real crime scene data, and talk to experts (usually on the right side of the law.) But I'd never dream of actually shooting someone as research for my murder scene.

Vicki's Key has more romance in it than any of my previous work. It didn't just happen; it was by design. My readers had been clamoring for more romance for several years and I finally gave it to them in a new series, Black Swamp Mysteries, that is designed to be edgier and sexier.

But I have to admit, I was surprised when people began commenting about the research I must have done for the love scenes. I didn't know quite how to respond to that. I've never made love in an open field next to a pond in Ireland but by golly, there's a scene in one of my upcoming books that does just that.

So I'm curious: if you are a writer, how much do you write that you actually experienced? And if you are a reader, how much of the book you're reading do you expect the author to have experienced first-hand?