The winner of a free copy of THE MISSING INK is Beth Solheim. Congratulations!
By Karen Olson (Guest Blogger)
Every writing class, every writing instructor will tell you the same thing: Write what you know.
Writing what you know is supposed to be easier. Since it’s the familiar, you’ll be able to perhaps better evoke the emotions, the scents, the sights. You’ll be comfortable with the words, the characters, the setting. I did all that. I wrote about a police reporter (I was a print journalist for more than 20 years) working for a fictional newspaper (I worked for several newspapers throughout my career) in New Haven, Connecticut (where I was born, and I’ve lived in the vicinity almost my entire life). The characters who inhabited those books were people I knew, the restaurants were places I’d visited and dined in, the neighborhoods were ones I drove and walked through.
Writing about that world was in my comfort zone.
So what did I do? I blew off all that advice about writing what I know and wrote a book about a character and a setting I know nothing about. Pretty much everything in my new book The Missing Ink is what I don’t know. Brett Kavanaugh is a tattooist and she owns her own shop. I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t own my own business. The shop is in Las Vegas, a city I have visited exactly twice for a total of six days. My first visit was 12 years ago. The second? Last summer, after I’d already written half the book.
It’s funny, though, that something that should have been difficult to write was so easy. Once I heard Brett’s voice and started writing, I was on a roll. It was so liberating not to have to adhere to actual restaurants or streets. I created a fictional resort casino called Versailles that was so much fun, I wish it really did exist. I used a few real locations: The Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes, where Brett’s shop is located; a couple of restaurants I visited on the Strip.
I read a great book about the history of women and tattoos, which helped with the tattooing parts of the book. I went online and found tattoo blogs, a video showing how to put a tattoo machine together, and I visited a tattoo shop in New Haven.
I was completely out of my comfort zone and had the time of my life.
Have you ever tossed everything aside and written about what you don’t know?
Karen Olson's first novel in the Annie Seymour series, Sacred Cows, was the one and only winner of the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award. She followed it with Secondhand Smoke, Dead of the Day, and Shot Girl before launching her new series with The Missing Ink. To learn more about Karen and her mysteries, visit her website and blog.