I am a Scorpio. I enjoy long walks on the beach, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and men in hockey masks. In my spare time I work to foil the plans of my arch nemesis, utilize my eight finger discount, and lecture from my soapbox about social injustices. I do not tolerate fools or like people who make Walmart plural.
I judge people who are missing more teeth than they have, unless they are old. I would like to someday be the scary old woman in the neighborhood that all the children are afraid of, however I will be misunderstood and actually a sweet old lady turned bitter by the disappointments of this cruel, cruel life.
I will have made my vast wealth telling fortunes under the alias the Mad Madame Mim and selling t-shirts in tourist destinations that say “Life isn’t always flowers and sausages”.
Someone once said, I think it was Mark Twain though I have also heard something similar attributed to Jane Austen, “Write what you know”.
I understand the reasoning for this advice. The things you know are easier to describe, easier to bring to life with words. Making a character live in a real city you are not familiar with or describing the taste you have never experienced would be difficult to pull off with any depth. However I have trouble buying into this notion completely. Sorry, Ms. Austen and Mr. Twain, but I disagree to an extent.
With DARK CORNERS I took a lot from real life. Obviously not everything, but there is a fair portion of the story I can back up with real life experiences. For this type of story I think the advice works because with this type of tale, psychological mystery with paranormal element, one foot has to stay firmly grounded in reality.
However, as I dive deeper into the world of PNR with the GUARDIAN TRILOGY I find there is less and less I can draw on from my own life and the more my imagination takes over launching me on these journeys into the unknown. I believe when writing PNR what you know is the appetizer, but imagination becomes the entree. There is something very free about being able to bring to life everything that lives in your head and create from nothing until it comes to life.
Do you write what you know or let your imagination run wild?