Personal Note: I use "Sweet Italian Creme" creamer from one of the bigger brands (red cap??) in my coffee until around eight in the evening. If I have coffee after that I switch to a frou-frou Vanilla or Mocha Capp because they keep my brain on and remind me of hot chocolate.
One of the cliches of writing is that phrase 'Write what you know', which--while very good advice--sounds like a Top Ten list of things newbie writers take as gospel (yes, I'm a newbie; let's not rub that in, shall we?).
But think of it this way, if you don't know your subject matter you'll just end up sounding like a pompous idiot. Do you want to sound like a pompous idiot? No? Well, alright then, you've got alternatives.
1. You can do exhaustive research on your subject (I keep getting mental pictures of rolling landscapes in Scotland when I think about this), adapt your new-found knowledge to your own personal style, and then let the result pour out of you. When done right this is an excellent option and I plan on taking it on one day.
2. Write what you know, i.e. something you're already pretty familiar with. Take stock of all the things that make you who you are and then find the universal truth about all of them that everyone else experiences as well. What are the hardships you've suffered, the joys you've been blessed with, the mysterious you finally understood one day? What about those things connect you, the individual, with THEM, the rest of the people in the world?
I'll tell you why I chose to write YA novels, and I'll try not to babble. That's not a guarantee, just a promise to make the effort.
- For one, out of all the stages of life, I've always liked adolescence best; before I got to be a teen, after I grew out of teendom, and yes, even while I was one. I connect pretty well with young adults because I remember and if there's one area in my life where I don't have to work at being empathetic, feeling for those kids is it. Plus, I like talking to teens; if I can't pinpoint why something isn't working that sweet braintrust of mine will tell me!
- The novels are fantasy-based because--if nothing else--I am a hardcore, to the marrow, "gimme, gimme, gimme" dreamer. I know the paranormal elements of fairy tales aren't real, I'm not delusional, but I still love them. I want a person who holds the world in his hand but has enough humility and grace not to let his position rule him.
- And last, the love story. My first series has carries the prevailing message that love conquers all. Why? Because I believe it. John and Paul, whether you reference the Beatles or the apostles, had it right; All you need is love, baby. Romantic love, familial love, agape love, strength and sacrifice to do what is best, be what is best, for those you love.
And so I remember. I take myself back and I think about what teenage me would have thought, felt, done about teenage him (of course there's a him!) and I apply it to a character, in her own words, with her own maturity level (Joss is so much more mature than I was), and her own characteristics.
If I didn't have those memories, I wouldn't know, you know?