Thursday, April 11, 2013
Writing About a Subject I Know Nothing About!
Yes, I know. That title doesn’t inspire confidence in readers. Authors are supposed to know something about a subject before they start a writing project, right? Of course. Readers expect authors to be experts on any subject that they choose, but in reality I think every author has at one time or another written about a subject or a place that was foreign to her or him.
In my newest release under my penname Fran Fisher, COOLING WATERS, the hero is a marine rescue diver, and I have to admit that I am not a diver. Why did I choose such a profession for my hero? It was easy. At one time, my youngest son, Thomas, volunteered with a rescue unit. He loved diving, but living away from the coastline, he was unable to enjoy the sport without traveling 5 or 6 hours. By joining the unit, he was able to dive as well as to help his community.
Over the few years that he was part of the rescue unit, he found several bodies. I had never thought about people devoting their lives to doing such a thing, but there are those brave men and women who do it day-in and day-out.
I think when an author chooses a topic not familiar to her, she puts herself in a position to be judged, so as with all my stories, I researched the topic. I talked with people who dove, and I read up on the topic. My husband helped me quite a lot because he, too, was a diver. In fact when my son wanted to get his certification when he was only twelve years old, I was terrified, so my husband took lessons along with him. He was the oldest in his class. My son was the youngest. They both contributed to this story.
As it turned out, I dedicated the book to someone who is also a diver. The lady, a professor at my old university, is a big supporter of my writing, but I never thought about her interest in diving when I put her name down. It was a nice coincidence.
Authors have a way of finding information. Most authors are inquisitive enough and interested enough in the facts to dig until they find what they need for a book. Many times we transfer our knowledge of one topic or place to another. Example: I had never been involved in a shipwreck, but I’ve been caught in squalls on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico so when I put my heroine in a ship that had hit the reefs near Key West in my book WINDSWEPT by Fran McNabb, I was able to transfer the fear I felt during one of our excursions to how my heroine must’ve felt as her ship was being tossed on the seas along the Florida Straits.
COOLING WATERS has only two dive scenes and I certainly hope my readers-in-the-know won’t find any mistakes. What I do know about is the feeling of love toward a child, a growing love between a man and a woman, and the loss that a person feels when a loved one dies. All of these feelings are in this book, and the author in me hopes these feelings are strong enough to overcome my lack of knowledge in other areas.
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