Monday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

Write What You Know

I started my first novel when I was nine (won’t mention the year, smile). The title was Murder in Egypt. It took place at an archaeological dig in the desert. It had a great cast of characters, twisty plot. I never finished the story though it captivated me for months.

In 1999, at a writer’s workshop I first heard “write what you know.” What the heck did that mean? I was a wife and mother; I knew plenty. But apparently not enough. Rejection after rejection came in. I blamed the publishers/editors for their lack of vision.

It was about this time another thought hit—okay, exploded—into my head. Could I have stumbled upon the reason for the unfinished Egypt manuscript? Could the fact that I’d never been out of Massachusetts have anything to do with not finishing a novel set thousands of miles away?

Throughout high school, the mention of reports and term papers brought sweat from every pore. I was bored silly by research. What got turned in was unemotional rote.

I got hired by a local magazine in 1998 and received my first assignment, to research a long-abandoned town at the end of a road that got more overgrown every year. “Damn, more research,” I groused. The librarian pointed me to, rather than the research section, a man who’d lived during that era. From that moment, the word research took on a whole new meaning. Everything in the world is there, you just have to look and learn, so you can…write what you know.


  1. Research is always fun! I have learned so many interesting things by accident or intetionally if I am looking for it. I can understand though that it can be hard work and stressful too if you are udner pressure.

  2. Love listening to the stories from my great grandparents, it makes the history come alive for me, much more so than by reading it a book.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

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