Write What You Know
This is advice I've received throughout my writing career. Honestly, as a sci-fi and fantasy author, I've often found it hard to "write what I know." How do I write about daring swordplay or a dystopian society when I live an average American life? In the past, I've relied largely on my imagination.
This has changed with my newest project, a zombie novel tentatively entitled Undead Ultra. The premise: In the midst of a zombie outbreak, Kate and her running buddy, Frederico, have one goal: to find Kate's son, Carter. The only problem? Carter is over two hundred miles away in Arcata, California. When their hatchback is totaled at the beginning of their journey, and they find the freeway clogged with car wrecks and zombies, Kate and Frederico set out on foot for the race of their lives.
I'm finally writing about something I know and love: running! Just last year I ran 6 half marathons (one of them in Germany!) and 1 full marathon (in Death Valley!). I have a few more marathons on the books this year, with hopes of working up to a 50K ultra in 2016. I devour running books, running documentaries, and my monthly subscription to Ultrarunning Magazine. So yeah, I love this stuff.
The most exciting part? Formation of the Zombie Recon Team!
I've sweet talked a group of my running buddies into running portions of the route traveled by my characters. This will help me bring real detail to the setting in my novel. (And did I mention I will get to RUN? Yay! If I thought I could run the entire 200 mile route without breaking something, I would! Maybe someday . . . )
Just last weekend, my girlfriend Lura and did a 9 mile recon run. We started in Geyserville (where my characters first decide to set out on foot) and ran all the way to Cloverdale. My daughter joined us for a short stint. Here we are, rocking our spandex running gear and chugging down a frontage road in wine country. Those are vineyards you can see to the right! During the run, we managed to aggravate 3 hostile pit bulls, discover an abandoned hobo cottage with a pee-filled beer bottle, and get footage of a partially decomposed snake. Adventures abound!
I've partnered with Chris Urasaki, a family friend who's passionate about film making. He'll be putting together footage from the ZRT runs to highlight the adventures of our trips. Stay turned for some You Tube videos!
Up next is a 15 mile trail run on abandoned rail road tracks. There will be poison oak, berry brambles, a perhaps some hobos. Can't wait! I'll probably be packing some pepper spray, but I'm pretty sure me and the ladies can outrun the hobos.