Friday, April 12, 2013

J is for Jack of all Trades

We all know the old maxim, 'write what you know'. These days I see more and more writers advising new authors to write what you don't know, to write about things you wish you could do, which inevitably leads to research. Personally, I'd much rather write about haunted geneticists, mail order brides and Italian counts than what I really know. I mean, I'm a housewife. Which I love. But my main area of expertise involve things like shopping for the best price on a bottle of ketchup and refereeing a fight between two hormonal teenagers.

Of course I do draw on some reserves when I write. For settings, I draw heavily on places I've lived and I use my knowledge of history to construct plotlines. But obviously I've never been one of the walking dead, I've never met at Italian count (that I'm aware of) and I can't perform surgery with a kitchen knife and a pair of rubber gloves.

So like most authors, I resort to research when trying to flesh out and get to know a character that is living a life completely different from my own. Along the way I've learned a lot about the decomposition process, shipping at the turn of the century, the intricacies of Victorian undergarments and much more. For me, part of the incentive to write another novel is always the play involved in dressing up, in trying on the clothes of a new person, a new profession, a new lifestyle.

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