They say to write what you know. That the things that are the closest to your heart are the things that you can put into words and make into something that other people will connect to. I’ve long wondered if that was a good piece of advice. After all, who really knows about magic kingdoms, fairies, and trolls? But some of the best and most beautiful stories in the world are written about things that people couldn’t possibly know.
But there are things that we can write about that are so close to the human condition that everyone can connect to them. I think the most telling thing is heartbreak. It’s something that everyone has gone through at least once in their lives. And why do we go through the trouble of spending our time reading books? It’s because there are tales and stories that draw us in and bring us to a point where we can join in to what is going on in the world around us.
I remember the first time I read a book about heartbreak. It wasn’t romantic heartbreak though. It was Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, a book I read a thousand times as a kid. I still read it every now and then just because it’s a wonderful book. But it isn’t even about a relationship that falls apart. It’s about a family that is shattered by the horrors of Nazi occupation. And it always made me think about how family isn’t just about blood.
I think about that as I write these days, especially as I’m working on the new Elemental Royals novel. Family isn’t about blood, and heartbreak doesn’t always have to be romantic. It’s never that simple, and there are always consequences that can make things worse than they were in the beginning. I suppose I try to figure out how to attach these kinds of ideas to my novels—these timeless themes that make people think and bring them to novels over and over again.
I don’t want to be a classic. I just want to be someone’s favorite.