“Write what you know.”
This famous and wise quote is one that every writer in existence has probably heard at one point or another. It makes sense to write from a place of familiarity, as it will give you an element of authenticity that your story may otherwise lack. But it doesn’t mean you have to write an autobiography, especially when you’re writing fiction. In my humble opinion, you should explore what you know, but don’t stop there, build.
When I craft the baseline of my stories, I start by writing down what inspired the idea and the overall concept of the story I want to tell. At this point in the writing process, it isn’t so much about the things I know, it’s about the things I want to learn about and navigate my way through on paper. When it comes to building the characters that will take me on the journey, that’s when I start to put Mark Twain’s advice into action. There are little fragments of me within each character that I write about. As an author, I think this is pretty normal. Not to say that my characters are carbon copies of me, because they definitely aren’t, they just have little pieces of who I am and what I’ve experienced, intersected with characteristics, travels and talents I could only dream to embody and experience. I think this makes the characters multifaceted and real. They have dreams, ambitions, fears and flaws. They aren’t perfect and neither are their lives, nor do I want them to be.
Hailey Covington, one of the main characters in my debut novel, RECKLESS, is a girl who knows what she wants, even at a young age. I could strongly relate to her and her understanding of love at the age of 19, because I fell in love and was actually married by the age of 18. (Gasp! I know!! And yes, me and my high school sweetheart are still happily married, 15+ years later!) I don’t believe you have to be a certain age to fall in love. When you know, you know. Whether you’re in high school, college or full-blown adulthood, love isn’t based on age and it isn’t hinged on a choice. Love simply happens. In life, we are faced with decisions every single day and, good or bad, these decisions have consequences, which set into action a ripple effect. In RECKLESS, this concept is explored in-depth.
Ellie Ford, the main character and narrator of SUMMER OF GRAY (soon to be released), is a very complex girl. She’s burying the pain she feels over her parents broken marriage and doesn’t trust that love can truly last. (Very different from Hailey, right?) Coming from a family affected by divorce, I can relate to Ellie. I had to overcome some of the pain and anger I felt as a teenager, which was a bit therapeutic to relive within the pages of SUMMER OF GRAY. At that time, while I knew how to express my feelings in words- I didn’t want to. Instead, I swallowed it down and dealt with it internally, which is something Ellie does, too. She doesn’t like conflict, so she avoids it, but when she’s forced into facing it, she doesn’t hold back. SUMMER OF GRAY chronicles her last summer at home before venturing off to college. She’s on the precipice of becoming an adult, which is a very thrilling and scary time of life and she’s fumbling her way through it. When finds herself falling in love, it terrifies her, because it makes her feel vulnerable to possibility of being hurt.
I have tons of stories in my head that I can’t wait to explore with characters that are built around a mix of what I know and who I aspire to be like. And I can’t wait for you to meet them all within the pages of my books.