“Are any of your characters based on yourself or people you know?”
The above are the two most frequently asked questions I hear from readers. The third most frequently asked question is, “How do you research your sex scenes?” This question is never asked by someone who has read my books, always asked by a male, and usually is asked each year at my husband’s company Christmas party after considerable imbibing on the part of the buffoon asking the question.
But I digress (Can you blame me? What are those knuckleheads thinking???)
Anyway, there’s a writing axiom that states, write what you know. To some extent this is sound advice, but it’s also extremely limiting advice. I have a good friend who writes stories populated with vampires, werewolves, selkies, and other assorted weird creatures of the paranormal world. My friend is neither a vampire, a werewolf, nor a selkie, and I have it on good authority that she’s never met any such creatures. So obviously she’s not writing what she knows from first-hand experience.
In Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, my most recent release. I wrote about secrets and revenge and the lengths some people will go in order to bury the former and achieve the latter. The plot is ripe with scandal. Drugs. Violence. Blackmail. Political machinations. Attempted murder. My heroine is a wealthy widow whose abusive, cocaine-snorting, deceased husband was about as low as a low-life can get.
Write what you know?
Hmm...I’ve never done drugs (sinus and headache meds don’t count), never blackmailed anyone, never tried to kill anyone, never been involved in politics except to vote, and my husband is the complete opposite of my heroine’s husband. I’m also far from wealthy. Very far. So no, the characters in Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception are neither based on me nor anyone I know, and the story line is far from autobiographical. However, some of the plot lines in the book are loosely based on actual events, just not ones involving me.
I get my ideas for my characters and my plots from the world around me. I’m a die-hard news junkie who has always believed that truth is stranger than fiction. That belief is reaffirmed every time I pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news. I’ll hear a news byte or read an article, then give the event a “what if” spin. The voices in my head take over from there, and the next thing I know, I’ve got the plot for another book.
In my upcoming series, the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, I do tap into my own experiences to some extent. My heroine is the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. Although I never worked as a magazine editor, I have worked for many magazines as a designer and did work for a few years as a craft book editor. Also, like my protagonist, I’ve raised teenage boys. However, with the exception of one other experience that I’ll keep to myself (you can always try guessing once the series comes out), what Anastasia and I have in common is far outweighed by our differences.
Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, won’t be released until January. However, Anastasia and the rest of the editorial staff at the magazine where she works are blogging daily at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers (http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com), where you can find crafts projects, recipes, decorating tips and more. I hope you’ll stop by.
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Award-winning author Lois Winston writes humorous women’s fiction, romantic suspense and amateur sleuth mysteries. Visit her at http://www.loiswinston.com or Anastasia at http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.
Lois is a fellow Midnight Ink writer…and way too nice to actually know about scandal, drugs and blackmail. :)Thanks so much for guest posting today, Lois!