March 17th, 2018
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Carter Wilson | Do Not Write What You Know

Mister Tender's Girl
Carter Wilson




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Powell's Books



How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?

February 2018
On Sale: February 13, 2018
Featuring: Alice Hill
400 pages
ISBN: 149265650X
EAN: 9781492656500
Kindle: B071W7BMHY
Trade Size / e-Book
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Also by Carter Wilson:
Mister Tender's Girl, February 2018
Revelation, December 2017
Revelation, December 2016
The Comfort of Black, August 2015


I hate the adage "write what you know."

Hate it. But I don't hate it because it's wrong. As an author, there are plenty of things about your life woven into your fiction, and most of the time this is done unconsciously. The car your character drives has a striking resemblance to your own. A few choice turns of phrases that you've been known to use pepper your manuscript. Your protagonist's drink of choice is, coincidentally, a margarita on the rocks, two parts tequila, one part lime, touch of orange liquor and a drizzle of agave nectar. No salt, not ever.

No, I hate that phrase "write what you know" because too many readers take it as an unalterable truism. By readers, of course, I mean family members. They mean well, God bless 'em, but boy do they want to know where all that darkness comes from. It has to come from somewhere, because, you know, you write what you know, and if the villain in your book fancies choking out hookers and making totem poles out of their torsos, well, we may need to revisit that time you went to summer camp when you were sixteen.

My mom always wants to read my manuscripts before they go to a publisher. In an early manuscript, I struggled mightily with the protagonist's motivation for the way he behaved in the arc of the story. Then it hit me that a lot of his actions could be better appreciated in the context of him having lived through a traumatic childhood event, and I added in a fairly disturbing scene in which said character, as a ten-year-old, is molested by his teacher. (full disclosure: unless I'm suppressing something, that never happened to me or anyone I knew). So my mom reads the story and, in perfect Mom-form, graciously tells me she likes it and notes out a dozen or so typos, but otherwise says nothing. A month later (A MONTH!) I'm visiting with her and she says she needs to ask me something. What is it? I ask. Of course, she asks if I've ever been molested. Now, at this point, I don't even realize we're talking about my book, so the question hits me like a foul ball hurling at my head out of the blinding sunshine. What? Did you seriously just ask me that?

Well, she says, it was in your book. And authors only write what they know.

Imagine that. She had been holding that in for a month, trying to find the courage to ask me. Apparently she had been calling my sister to recollect anything that could have happened. Of course, my sister recalled to her one time when she vaguely remembered a stranger asking me to go for a hike (and maybe this is the suppressed part...) and thought the guy was a little creepy. That story, apparently, was the tipping point for my mother to finally ask. God, I felt horrible. I assured her that, to the best of my memory, the creepy hiker merely wanted to go hiking.

I've had other questions from family members, including, “who was that person based on?" Or, "why don't you like to write happy things?” And once, “What are you hiding?”

Maybe there is a deeply rooted psychological answer for why thriller/suspense writers gravitate toward the dark, but I think the truest answer is this: darkness begets tension, and tension begets a good story. If I truly wrote a book based on what I know from my real life, it would be boring as hell.

Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of MISTER TENDER'S GIRL.

About Carter Wilson

Carter Wilson

USA Today bestselling author Carter Wilson explores the depths of psychological tension and paranoia in his dark, domestic thrillers. Carter is a two-time winner of both the Colorado Book Award and the International Book Award, and his novels have received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Carter lives in Erie, Colorado in a spooky Victorian house.





7 comments posted.

Re: Carter Wilson | Do Not Write What You Know

Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds like a very interesting book
(Julie Parrish 10:44am March 5)

Sounds like a good book!
(Rebecca Shields 8:58pm March 5)

Really want to read this book. Waiting for my turn at the
library. Thanks for the contest!!!!
(Teresa Ward 9:21pm March 5)

Fingers crossed for the win
(Sarana Bales 10:04am March 7)

Wow, intriguing questions about writing what you know.
Thanks for the chance.
(Debra Guyette 2:16pm March 7)

Your post was very entertaining, your poor mom.
(G. Bisbjerg 6:07pm March 7)

I loved your blog and the reaction your mom had. It left me with a huge smile on my face and thinking I might have asked my son the same question if he had written this book.
(Anna Speed 12:20pm March 8)

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