Update: We have a winner! This morning I drew a magic number from Random.org, and our lucky commenter Stacey Joy Netzel wins the signed copy of DEFIANCE. Stacey, I’ll put you and C.J. in touch with each other so you can send her your address. Huge thanks to everyone—especially the lovely C.J. herself!—for joining us for this post. Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in this book! –Amy
I’m so happy to welcome fellow Pixie Chick (2008 Golden Heart® finalist) C.J. Redwine today. Her debut release, DEFIANCE hit the shelves at the end of August. If you’ve never met her, you’re in for a treat. C.J. loves stilettos, lemon bars, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She lives in Nashville with her husband, four kids, two cats, and one long-suffering dog. To learn more, visit her website. (Seriously, visit it. C.J. is one of the funniest and yet sincere bloggers I know—you’ll love her.)
Like today—C.J. is going to share about what she knows and what she doesn’t know. And why writing what she doesn’t know became the obvious choice. I defy you not to enjoy! Oh, and just in case you’re thinking you’ll skip, C.J. is offering a signed copy of her book to one lucky commenter with a U.S. mailing address. Read on and leave a comment to enter! Now, here’s C.J.!
Growing up, I read Little Women so often that my copy literally fell to pieces. I learned a lot of interesting things from that book, but the one that stuck with me was the advice given to Jo to “write what you know.” Those words unlocked the key to her success as an author. As a girl who already knew she wanted to write books for a living, I polished those words to a high shine and gave them a place of honor in my heart.
What do I know? I know how to play a mean game of Monopoly. I can sing almost any song I hear on the radio. I understand early childhood education and how to craft a lesson plan. I am adept at public speaking. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a volunteer. I know movies. I know lemon bars. I know cats.
Well, as much as anyone knows cats.
I know shoes. Cooking. How to conjugate verbs in Spanish. I know a great deal about all of those things.
So, when the time came to write the book that was close to my heart, the book that ended up finally landing me a contract for a trilogy, I took a long look at the bright, shiny “write what you know” advice and wrote a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure with city-states, a wingless, fire-breathing dragon that tunnels up from beneath the earth, assassins, swords, and sonar technology that ends up starting a war.
If you look closely at that list, you’ll discover a noticeable lack of lemon bars, cats, and Spanish verbs. In fact, it looks like I wrote a book about all the stuff I know absolutely nothing about.
I’ll be honest. I added up the list of things I know and decided I didn’t want to read about them. They seemed kind of … boring.
Well, not cats. Cats are rarely boring. They’re too busy planning our eventual ruin to ever be boring.
But the rest of it felt so mundane, and when I read a story, I want to escape the ordinary and live a life I could never live outside the pages of a book. I want adventure! Hot boys with swords! Monsters, assassins, and armies, oh my!
So, I wrote a book about all the things I didn’t know, but wanted to experience. I threw the shiny advice I learned from Little Women right out the window and it paid off.
Or did I?
It turns out, I know other things besides movies, mothering, and early childhood education. I know about loss. I know about being broken and having to fight tooth and nail to heal. I know what a first kiss feels like. I know that stomach-churning awkwardness that springs up between two people who don’t know how to feel about each other. I know what it means to be desperate for answers, and to make choices because you have to move forward even though you’re pretty sure those choices are wrong. I know regret. Joy. Passion.
And guess what? I wrote a book about hope, loss, brokenness and the cost of healing. I wrote romance, and first kisses, awkwardness and desperation. Bad choices and consequences, and the steep trek toward redemption.
It turns out I did write what I know. I just packaged it in an epic post-apocalyptic adventure. Maybe that’s the point of that precious advice after all. Some write about war and treason. Some write about dukes and duchesses. Some write about a Texas oil tycoon and his reluctant bride. But beneath the packaging, writers all share one thing in common. Stories are a way to pull apart the pieces of the human experience, hold them up to the light, and try to make sense of them.
We write what we know.
Thanks, C.J.! Readers, tell us, do you love to read about things that are new and unfamiliar? Got questions about her story or how she manages to write around a family life that is anything but mundane? She’ll stop in later today to reply.
And for a chance to win an autographed copy of DEFIANCE, leave a comment by midnight tonight. Tomorrow morning, we’ll randomly draw one lucky commenter with a U.S. mailing address as our winner.