Saturday, July 27, 2013

Guest Blogger: How To ‘Write What You Know’ for Urban FANTASY by Renee Charles

As authors, we are told to be successful we must write what we know. But how does that work for an author of Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy? If authors only wrote what they knew, we would have very few genres out there to read. 

How many of us have been to Narnia or The Push for that matter? Don’t get me wrong. There is something to be said about cutting your teeth on the familiar. (Just ask my dog and my slippers.) But what if we writers went another route? Another philosophy? What if we went in with the intention to get to know what we are writing about? After all, at some point it becomes necessary to branch out past our experiences to create worlds beyond our own existence. Otherwise how would Oz, Wonderland, or Frankenstein have been created? 

So how do you write the unfamiliar with authority? How do you bring authenticity to what you make up?

In a word, Adventure.

We’ve all heard the story of the fateful night Mary Shelley and several others created their monsters in a macabre challenge born of wine, boredom and conversation; conversations about the work of Erasmus Darwin, which reportedly led to her dream and then later, her novel. But, did you know Mary Shelly crept around graveyards at night? Yep, typical teen, snuck out at night to meet her future husband at her mother’s gravesite once he and her father had a falling out over a business matter. (Well maybe not so typical. I didn’t meet my boyfriends in a graveyard.) 

Adventures supply real experiences, which we can draw from when describing the worlds we make up.

For example while writing my new romance novel, Only Love Survives, I shot an automatic rifle called an Hp45. Now, I did not shoot a Zombie or a person in any way shape or form, of course. (I know, quit saying ‘duh’, and follow me a minute.) But how would I know how to describe the weight and recoil of the weapon if I had not experienced it? Using a weapon allowed me to incorporate all five senses into writing the scenes. To me that is not writing what I know, but getting to know what I am writing about. Oh and btw, after seeing what it did to a watermelon, it was easy to envision what such a weapon would do to a Zombie. 

How can you write about the ocean if you have never tasted the salt air?

Each author has a different process. I can only share mine. But your writing will be enriched if you seek out ways to explore the world you’re writing about, even the made up ones. If you are writing about a faraway desert that rivals the Sahara, by all means don’t be afraid to write it just because you have not been there. But do take a trip to a beach on a sunny day, otherwise you might miss what it’s like to burn your feet on hot sand.  

Not all genres have the luxury of writing what you know, but don’t let it stop you. Seek new experiences to draw from, and your writing will remain fresh as well as realistic.

About the author:

Author, Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Being the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two teenage boys) she tends to lean toward the strange and unusual, but inevitably the softer side shines through.

Whether life leads her to a snow covered mountain top, sun dappled forest, or the bottom of a ravine (yes, ditches happen) she always has a pen and note pad ready so wherever the next adventure takes her, she can take notes.

Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings that lead to passionate endings. Romance with a twist.

In the face of zombies, werewolves, and big foot she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

Find Renee Charles at:

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About Only Love Survives: 

Amidst an epidemic ravaging the world, all Megan Fletcher's hopes for the future lie in getting to Las Vegas where newscasts reported scientists were gathering to search for a cure for the modern plague. After rescuing her from a rooftop surrounded by Zombies, Sam Woods appoints himself her escort.  While he knows she is determined to get to Vegas no matter the cost, he doesn't know her secret. And with his hatred of all things Zombie, she doesn’t dare tell him the truth. The more he kisses her, the harder it is for Megan to hide her growing feelings…and the bite-shaped scar. 

But Vegas is not the haven it was promised to be, and when Megan’s immunity to the disease is discovered, she realizes her future and her heart belong to Sam, if he will trust her.  An idealistic school teacher and ex-corporate mogul manage to find love despite a looming worldwide catastrophe. Can their love survive while everything around them is dying? Will they learn that when facing the end of the world, Only Love Survives.   

A storm that spelled danger flashed across Sam’s face. He advanced on Megan so fast, she backed up against the side of the Suburban. Planting a hand firmly on each side of her, he pinned her with his arms as well as his gaze.
“What I want? Are you so hard headed you can’t tell what I want?” He covered her mouth with his lips and crushed her clever comeback with an assault on her senses.
Megan pushed him, but he didn’t budge. Instead, he continued to kiss her until her heart raced and cheeks flushed with need. All resistance melted and she succumbed to the warmth of his embrace. Her arms wound around his neck of their own accord pulling him closer while her tongue sought his in a passionate dance, completely ignoring what her heart wanted.
When he finally broke away leaving Megan breathless and wanting so much more, Sam put his forehead to hers and watched her mouth like a drunk watches amber liquid poured into a glass. “You,” he rasped. “I’ve wanted you since I found you hanging from that damn roof, and all our little encounter in the river did was add fuel to the fire.”  

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  1. Renee, thank you being my guest today. Love the details about Mary Shelly. For me, Dr. Frankenstein was always the monster of that story.

    What's your favorite type of zombie? Romero, 30 Days, Walking Dead...?

    1. I liked the zombies in I am Legend, because there was enough humanity left for the monster to see revenge once the Doctor captured his woman. But as far as movies go, no one can top Zombieland, remember always double tap.

  2. Loved the excerpt and certainly admire the fact you delve into your subject matter, so far as to even go shoot a gun! Well done!

  3. Thanks Lisa, today is the last day to get it free on Amazon.

    Mary, I have to admit, it was fairly easy for me to go that far because my husband has a couple of guns and we have friends in the military, so we could go shooting pretty much when even we want. I do recommend experiencing whatever you can. I was writing a story once about Niles Canyon where Charlie Chaplin shot movies. I lived next door to the old studio, and I knew there had been a fire on main street. I went to the library and found old photos, copied them and took my little boys on a hunt. We walked main street and compared the old pics to what was still standing. The kids thought it was so cool when they could identify land marks in the old photo that still existed. Life can be such an adventure if you let it.

  4. Life is an adventure, and thank you for the reminder! If for no other reason, bringing a little more adventure into my daughters' lives. I've never been big on zombies, but the way they have been evolving the last few years has been fun. Looks like I have another book to add to my reading list. ;-)

  5. Love the post! I'm an excited new author recently contracted with The Wild Rose Press for a mainstream paranormal, The Seer's Lover. I love that you went shooting for your book! So did I - I even loved it so much that I bought two guns and got my Wisconsin Conceal and Carry! For my fight scenes, I even went to a hard core Krav Maga class! Adventure means trying new things and I think we all want our books to have people dive in and feel like they are there - great post!

    Kat de Falla