I'm normally fine with flying, which is good, because I do a lot of it. (9-seat planes, helicopters flying over glaciers - now those I'm a tad nervous about).
This week I paid extra to fly in the exit row. It was wonderful! My knees were nowhere near the seat ahead of me. The couple next to me did not seem to be experienced fliers. She tried to put her full size suitcase underneath the seat in front of her.)
As the plane started its descent into Chicago, water started dripping on my pants. I realized it was coming from the emergency exit door release. It was like it was raining - inside. This did not seem good. I checked out the exit window behind me. No rain. The flight attendants were in their seats, and even if I summoned one, I wasn't sure what they could do. I thought of pointing it out to my neighbors, but decided they should spend their last moments enjoying their crossword. In the end, we landed without incident.
Question from a reader I am an aspiring author (I checked out your FAQ page so don't worry about me asking you to read something of mine). I loved Girl, Stolen! I wanted to ask how you wrote about Cheyenne being blind? I was wondering if you knew someone who was blind, if you did extensive research, or if you just trusted your gut and thought about how you would feel? I was reading something from another author who said you should only write about things you've experienced, but as a pretty sheltered 16 year old there isn't a lot I've experienced. I was wondering if you followed the same rule.
My answer You don’t have to write only what you know. I’ve heard “write what you want to know” and I think that’s more true.
Years ago, before I was published, I started writing a book from the POV of two middle-aged male Southerners who are identical twins, one of whom is paralyzed. (Not sure I had even been to the South - and I was younger, female, and not paralyzed. Oh, and not a twin.) That wasn’t the best idea. I think I thought it was more “writerly” to write a character I totally had to make up.
I am not blind and at the time I started writing Girl, Stolen, I did not know anyone who was. But I had just seen a news story that was basically the first few minutes of Girl, Stolen (the real girl was let go after 10 minutes) and I knew it would make a great book.
I think if you are going to write about someone who is not like you (especially someone who is in the minority), you should try really hard to get it right. So while I could walk around my house with eyes closed and think about what it would be like to be blind, I knew that wasn’t enough. So: - I read books by people who had gone blind. (And I was lucky, because there are a LOT! Understandably, it’s a dramatic thing) - I interviewed blind people and asked them to read the book when it was done. - I got a white cane and learned basic caning technique. - I went to the guide dog school for the blind and spent a day there.
And I also trusted my gut and thought about how I would feel.
I think it’s good to experience something yourself if you can. I have fired a gun, I have been handcuffed, and I have learned how to pick my way out of handcuffs with a bobby pin. When a copyeditor questioned whether the killer could really put a body under the kitchen sink, I pulled out everything and climbed in and took a selfie.
So you can combine trusting your gut, thinking about it logically, doing research, interviewing people, and having real life experiences. If you are writing fantasy, it is likely you are never going to experience what it is like to be a were-dragon or cast spells or whatever. So that’s going to be more thinking about it and trusting your gut.
I was a pretty sheltered 16 year old myself. Nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to become a serial killer to write about them (or do you…?). (Nope, pretty sure you don’t.)
I loved, loved, loved The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (his books are like no other books), and the cover of The Girl in the Red Coat reminded me of it. Interestingly, there seem two be two different covers. Which do you like better?
I'm a native Oregonian. In the early 1980s, my dad, a county commissioner in Southern Oregon, received death threats from a group called Posse Comitatus. At one point, the police advised my dad to leave town and go into hiding. And my father, who was the most mild mannered man I've ever met, actually thought about whether he should get a gun.
A lot of their philosophy lives on in the armed extremists - pretty much of all of them from out of state - who have taken over Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge. And you can trace the Posse Comitatus back to the Silver Shirts, a group modeled after Hitler's Brown Shirts.
Plus I love the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. It's a beautiful spot with a cool little museum.
Ammon Bundy and his crew of armed occupiers who have taken it over scare me. A lot.
Now they have their own "jury" that they created to "try" public officials, and it's quite possible they will put liens on public officials' personal property. It's what the Posse Comitatus did in Southern Oregon.
I am so sick of these folks. And when I posted something on my Facebook page, I was accused of being a paid goverment shill.