How many times have we heard similar statements? People are always saying to write what you love and the readers will love
it too. But at the same time, write what you know.
When contemplating a new story, I always think I would love to place the characters in an exotic location, but in the end, I write what I know. I’m not a big traveller by any stretch of the imagination, so most of my stories are set in Perth, Western
Australia. Rather boring to me, but I hope it is exotic to others.
Write what you love. That’s easy. M/M romance, with a touch of humour and definitely a HEA. I did write an m/f novel once…. It’s still lingering in my computer. Maybe one day I will dust it off and submit it to a publisher.
Write what you know. When it comes to fleshing out one of my characters, I always try to think, “Why?” Why would a person think this way? Is it because he has read a book? Is it because he once met a person who told him that? Is it his experience in life?
To me, family is the biggest influence on my life. I come from a large family and their experiences and opinions bleed into
my life on a daily basis. Sometimes this is good, sometimes bad. When I write my characters, I tend to place them into family situations as well. It’s what I know. It’s how I experience my life.
Recently I was reviewing Goodreads and noticed that my novel, Loving Jay was sitting at #3 on a list. Oh – not a “best of” list
(be still my heart!), just a list of books where the character has a large family. I laughed because, I guess to most people, a family of five boys is a large family. I never stopped and truly appreciated this, because my family has this beat by four kids.
My character of Liam is the fourth of five boys. I wrote this deliberately because it influenced dramatically how Liam thought of himself. Liam had been brought up in a household of men and masculinity with very little feminine frills. His father was anti-gay
and made no attempt to hide it. His mother, despairing of ever having a daughter, had subtly suggested his whole life that his “role” was to find a girlfriend, get married and have grandchildren for his mother to fuss over. His brothers were doing the right thing – one married with a baby, one married, one just about to get married. Liam felt lost as being gay was seen as a bad thing, and not being able to bring home a girl for his mum to adore was playing on his mind.
This is how I see my life – my brothers’ and sisters’ failures and successes are all lined up to judge me against. Liam judged his life on the fact that he could never bring a girl home or have children. He judged himself a failure because he couldn’t play football – like his brothers. He couldn’t keep a girlfriend – like his brothers. He wasn’t straight – like his brothers.
Surprisingly enough, it’s not Liam’s family that my own family is most like. My family is reflected more in Jay’s. Jay only
has two older sisters, but the family gatherings are a sight to see. In the book, Liam is invited to Jay’s family dinner.
In attendance: Jay, Grandma, Mum, the two sisters, the brother-in-law and the two children. For three minutes the family sits and eats politely, before wham the table explodes. The next thing each person at the table is holding two conversations at once, everyone is talking, insults are being yelled, stories are being related, kids are being told off, recipes are swapped. Poor Liam is completely shocked and sits there in silence until he realises that Jay’s brother-in-law is also sitting quietly, simply eating his meal. Ignoring the shenanigans of the family, the two men sit and calmly discuss football and allow the others to continue their shouting matches.
Yeah – that’s my family.
I can still remember the shell-shocked look on the faces of my boyfriends I would bring home to meet everyone. I would go around the room and introduce him to the eighteen people in attendance at the meal, then while he was still reeling, I would whisper that he was lucky that some of my siblings lived in the country and weren’t there as well. And then I would go back to holding two conversations at once.