Writer on the Loose

Writer on the Loose

The most common axiom about writing is to “write what you know.”

Deception Pass portrait

Author and her trusty research assistant at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island.

Have you ever driven behind a school bus full of fifth grade boys? Have you ever seen them press their faces to the back window so their noses looks like snouts and their breath fogs up the glass and their tongue lolls out of their mouths? That’s how I feel about that axiom. Although I would add some rude sound effects just to really round things out.

Orcas Island church

A small Episcopalian church on Orcas Island as seen from the rock and driftwood strewn beach below.

If all writers only wrote what they knew  – in other words, what they have experienced – we wouldn’t have a single historical novel or fantasy story. The entire Star Wars and Star Trek canons are wiped out with this one piece of bad advice. On the other hand, we would have a large number of accountant memoirs from which to choose.

Write what you want to know, I say. And with this in mind, I set myself off to the San Juan Islands with my trusty research assistant (otherwise known as my husband) in tow. A few pictures of our adventures are here. For more details, well, you’ll have to pick up a future book.

First People's Mask

The Burke Museum in Seattle has an extensive collection of art and cultural artifacts from the Pacific Northwest's first people.


  • Gary McCormick

    11.03.2013 at 16:20

    I enjoyed “Losing Clementine” immensely, and am looking forward to your next book.

    (BTW — in the context in which you use the word (above), it’s “canon”, not “cannon”…) ;^)

    “The entire Star Wars and Star Trek cannons…”

  • Eric

    11.03.2013 at 16:57

    Or even, write what you’re afraid to know. Some of the most boring books of all time have been written by people who knew far too much about their subject. That’s what textbooks are for. No bunny pics?

  • Ashley Ream

    11.03.2013 at 17:15

    Gary, thanks so much for the kind words for CLEMENTINE. I loved writing it, and it’s so nice to hear that readers enjoyed it, too. And thank you, too, for spotting my typo. Copy editors are saints. I have made the correction.