Years ago, when I first started writing, a teacher told me, “Write what you know.” To me, that advice seemed obvious. Why would you write about something you didn’t know?
Well, after writing for fifty some years, I can answer that question. I am curious about many things and it is interesting to research and find the answers. And, sometimes it is interesting to write about what you have recently learned.
However, when I wrote “Death is Always a Resident” and set the story in a care center, I did write what I knew–at least in a limited sense. My grandmother owned a “nursing home” and worked long hours taking care of the patients and making sure it was clean, well-maintained, the food was nutritious etc.
Later, my uncles got involved in the administration and the day-to-day tasks that were involved in the nursing home and I heard many stories as a child. When I was a teenager, I worked in the nursing home kitchen and then in the laundry to earn money for college. I knew some of the “residents” and talked to the care givers and nurses.
However, years later, when I decided to set my story in a “care center” in Ohio, I made appointments with administrators from several centers. I asked questions and observed how the industry had changed. I asked about current medical procedures and medication. I wanted to make sure what I wrote was accurate for the time period of the novel.
I have had several people ask why I chose a care center as a setting–and that’s why. I did write what I knew. 🙂