Monday, October 28, 2013

Jana DeLeon: Write What You Know

One of the first things you hear when you attempt to write a novel is to “write what you know.” That doesn’t mean that if you’re an accountant (which I am, by the way) that you’re stuck writing novels about the IRS. Thank Heavens! It just means that you should draw upon your own emotional well to create three-dimensional characters that readers can relate to.

But I take that to an entirely different level. With all of my books set in the Louisiana bayous, I draw from my experience living there to create realistic settings and characters, which can lead to a lot of questions. Like “do you really know those people you write about?”

Sure, I know them all. In my mind. Well, except for the drunken Father Thomas in UNLUCKY. I used to golf with him when I was a teenager, but that’s a whole other story.

When I’m writing and especially when I go back to read a rough draft, I always think “these are people I’d like to see in action.” Mind you, I’m fairly positive I wouldn’t want to be “in” most of the action, but if I could have a bleacher seat with popcorn and maybe a frito pie, that would be stellar. If I could have a beer with them afterwards, then that would be even better.

As a reader, my favorite books are the ones that I put down and wonder what the characters are doing until I can get back to it. They are the books that when I get to the end, I wish I could spend more time with the people I’ve grown to know and love. The first writer that I can remember who really drew me in that way was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her depiction of her childhood in one of the roughest areas of the US is nothing short of incredible.

What writer makes you want to leap through the pages and go “on screen” with their characters? Can you remember the first time it happened? Or the last?

If you can, post your answer. One lucky poster will win a $25 Amazon egift card.

***Congrats, Eli Yanti - you won!  Please email!***


Mary Preston said...

Growing up for me it was all the Enid Blyton books. I wanted to be the one having all the adventures. The characters were so very real & I could totally picture myself there with them. I re-read them all so many times - the Secret Seven and Famous Five books especially.

petite said...

When I was young the first books that I read were the Anne of Green Gables series in hardcover from the library. I was captivated with the setting and the wonderful characters and found it unforgettable.

Lil said...

My first experience of that was the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and for the same reason you mention. I read a bit of everything dependent on mood. My most recent read making me wish I could hangout at the coffee shop with the characters is from Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series. Would so not want to experience the action but am with you on the popcorn and bleacher seat for that kind of thing.

traveler said...

My first enthralling book experience was reading Daphne DuMaurier's novels. I felt so engrossed within the pages that no author so far has managed to interest as much.

Aly said...

I love Nalini Singh and the moment I started the 1st book I've read by her I wanted to be there. She writes such compelling books!

erin said...

Growing up it was Ann McCaffery. Even though she had a fantasy world and sci fi settings, I could still picture them in my head and her characters always seemed so real to me :) Congrats on the newest release and thanks for sharing!

Eli Yanti said...

The first I read was from harlequin, about prince and princes and always dream how is I am a princess and married with prince and life together happily ever after :)

Laurie G said...

Two authors spearheaded my love of the romance genre Nora Roberts and LaVyrle Spencer. Both wrote beautiful descriptions that made it easy to visualize their characters in my head. I started reading romances around 1980.

Leni said...

There are many that I could list, but I'll just name three. Linda Lael Miller, Sandra Brown, and Nora Roberts. Not sure when the first book I read made me not want to put it down, but these three are on my constant reading list.