- On July 30, 2020
I’m currently working on the biggest project I’ve done in years: penning a fact-inspired tale of ghosts and demons set in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ll be chronicling the process here on my blog, covering everything from trying to land an agent (mine retired in 2016!) to compiling the text to marketing the finished product once it’s published. Here’s hoping this will be a great journey, with plenty of lessons learned along the way!
My first topic is a take on the old adage, ‘write what you know.’ This is great advice, because writing is best when it’s authentic, and readers can always sniff out an author who is faking it and doesn’t have the facts straight. The book I’m currently working on, The Vermicular File, is an offshoot of a reference work I wrote back in 1998 called Encyclopedia of Hell; it chronicles some bizarre and eerie experiences I had after spending so much time researching demons. Trust me, netherworld drama is something I know!
So yes, write what you know — but don’t stop there. Branch out, do some research, embellish your knowledge with creative details. I’ll be doing that in The Vermicular File, too, mixing Charleston ghost legends and images from Gullah lore into my tale. Adding such elements helps a writer grow and gives readers a richer, more layered work. And discovering new ideas and concepts outside our ‘familiar circles’ can also be a great source of inspiration. Mark Twain wrote about his adventures on the Mississippi River, yes, but he penned a book about King Arthur’s Court as well! If you want range as an author, at some point you’re going to have to become an explorer, an adventurer, a pilgrim. Take your discoveries, blend them with what you know, and there’s your recipe for success. Now get cooking!