So, one of the cardinal rules of writing fiction is to write what you know – draw on your own knowledge and experiences to help shape your characters and stories. For those of you who have read our stories, you may have noticed that we use a lot of different locations and have characters from a wide variety of occupations and with a varied set of skills. For those who are curious, McKay and I really do draw upon our life experiences for these things.
When it comes to locations, you may have noticed we tend to favor the South. Both of us are born and bred southern girls, so that made it easy. Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Richmond and rural Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas… all of these are places we have either lived in or visited, and I think that gives our writing a certain authenticity. My absolute favorite city on the West Coast is San Francisco, so we’ve used that, too. I’ve travelled a lot in the Caribbean, and the locale in Caribbean Blues is based on a place I’ve actually been in Port Lucaya. McKay and I have both been to London, and we’ll probably be including it in something in the future, and since I was raised in Miami, it’s probably only a matter of time until Florida shows up, too. 😉
As far as characters, many of ours are based on the types of people we tend to like or be attracted to — yes, there is a reason there are quite a few tall, dark-haired, snarky men in our stories. 😀 Some characters are based on real people, both celebrities and people known to us. When it comes to their occupations… well, English professors, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and yes, even the mercs are familiar to us. I have worked with a great many military people from all branches of the services over the course of my career, so it was easy to bring those characters to life — plus my father was a paratrooper in WWII, and I grew up on his stories of the Pacific theatre. McKay and I are both geek girls, so our nerdier characters have a firm basis in reality.
Aside from personal experiences, good research helps, but I prefer to use things I actually know. One of the beauties of writing with a co-author is that we both have different experiences to draw upon, so it quite literally doubles our comfort zone. So while neither of us ever has been a gay man (unless there is something McKay hasn’t told me), we hope that the real-life aspects that we bring to our writing accomplish the goal we both have for our writing – to tell a story that will entertain our readers, and bring them back for more.