So, what do I write? I write about characters who interest me, who aren't perfect, who either do interesting things or interesting things happen to them and they have to cope with them.
Chani, for instance, in 'Chani's Karmic Collision', is absolutely her own woman. She lives in the trendy small town of Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, where many creative people live - artists, writers, makers; people who are into somewhat unusual things, like crystals, healing, herbalism, chakras or beliefs around karma. All perfectly fine, but, you have to admit, not in the normal run of many people's lives. Chani works at the 'Mind and Body Centre', where healing therapies are offered, alongside therapeutic holistic beauty therapies. She sees herself as a therapist and someone who knows all about chakras, chi and karma.
Jamie, the 16-year-old grandson she didn't know she had but is expected to look after, is totally different. He is spoiled, sullen, doesn't have many friends. His interests are rugby (Union, as he lives in Welwyn Garden City, down south) and opera. Oh, and his wealthy, confident and beautiful girlfriend, Sophie.
These two are presented with a dilemma - Social Services have decreed Chani should live in Jamie's house, for a trial week at first, and take responsibility for him. The reason for this is that his mother, who is Chani's estranged daughter, has 'run away with a man' and no one knows where she is. There is a housekeeper, Magda, but she has to go back to Poland with her husband and so can't carry on living in and running the house.
There are a few social workers in the story, one is Chani's best friend. She is amazed that the southern social worker considers Chani the best person to look after Jamie. She is a sensible, competent, practical person herself. Of the other social workers, one is everything a social worker should be, one is so inexperienced, stressed and harassed she makes some very poor decisions.
Well, you get the picture.
I enjoyed putting these characters into this situation and helping them to work it out.
Am I writing about 'What I Know', as writers are often told they should? I know the two settings. I've worked, as I said earlier, in a lot of situations where social workers are involved, teenagers make things worse for themselves while others manage difficult situations beautifully, and adults somehow muddle through. Sometimes these situations are dramatic, sad, even heartbreaking. Sometimes they're hilarious. So, yes, I'm using things I know. But any writer will tell you, the characters have minds of their own.