I have always found the idea of writing what you know dismaying…I feel like I know so little, and it is kind of boring. If I took this phrase at face value I would be writing about my adventures as the secretary for an academic department, who, once a week, goes out and teaches students how to sword fight.
But mostly, I take this saying to mean – learn everything you can about what you are writing. For The Chocolatier’s Wife, I learned everything about chocolate making in the time period I was mirroring. Very little of it made the page, but it gave William over all a feeling of competence. You could believe he knew what he was doing, even if we were not concentrating on it. (There were murders to solve, after all.)
For The Key to All Things I was ahead on one important aspect – sword fighting.
I have been a student of the Art of Defense since 2008, so it is one of the things I know. I know how it feels to make the point, to walk off the field both victorious and defeated. I know how my body feels, the mechanics and timing, the lunge, the thrust, the parry. While that pleasure has never been marred by actually hurting anyone (I have broken a sword blade off someone’s chest, though, but they did not even feel it through the armor) I know enough. It was extra frightening – writing about something you and a bunch of your closest friends are emotionally and physically invested in really is super intimidating – but also really wonderful to get to express on the page how I truly feel about fighting.
Do you have any skills that you think would be fun to use in a story?