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Tuesday, September 18, 2012



Writing What You Know: Not As Easy as it Sounds

We’ve all heard it: “Write what you know.” But what does that mean, really? Write about lawyers because you are one? Okay. I understand that. So the story’s more believable, right? But believability isn’t enough to make a good story. Sure, believability helps, but the best stories are those readers can connect with emotionally (at least that’s how this reader sees it). I personally think “write what you know” is about far more than just familiarity with a profession or a place: it’s writing about emotions and situations you have experienced in your life. And let’s face it, that’s a tough thing to do, because if you’ve felt, you probably still feel it.

In retrospect, it’s not surprising that my first two books were pure fantasy. Pirates and genies. They were a ton of fun to write. They weren’t really supposed to be deep. Fun, romantic, erotic, but not particularly deep. But afterward I was left with “what’s next?” “Write what you know,” someone told me. So I did. I wrote about music. And it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It still is.

Of course you see the problem here, don’t you? Writing about something that is near and dear to you stirs up a plethora of emotional baggage. It also makes for a damn good story. But it doesn’t get easier to write what you know as time goes by. With each Blue Notes Series book, I feel as though I’ve gone through a bit of trial by fire. Each one has something of me in it (I’ll let you guess what bits are mine, but they’re there, I assure you). Still, there’s a bright side to the pain that sometimes pours out of me and onto the page when I write about something I feel: with each story, I let go of something that’s been holding me back. Writing as catharsis.

The Melody Thief is no exception. At times, it was painful to write. But I know I’ve grown through it. A minor epiphany. Oh, and by the way, the next in the series, Aria (December 2012 publication), was the hardest of all. For a former opera singer (former being the key word here) to write about an opera singer was particularly difficult because it was so close to home.

So that’s what my Blue Notes stories are, really. Stories about things I know. Pieces of my heart and my soul. Am I an incurable romantic? You bet. Wear my heart on my sleeve? Well, I write it on my sleeve, perhaps. So much the better. I wouldn’t have it any other way. –Shira


In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 30’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Shira can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, or on her web site, You can also contact her at

ABlue Notes Novel (Note: Each Blue Notes Series novel is an independent story, set in the same classical music universe. Books can be read in any order.)

Cary Redding is a walking contradiction. On the surface he’s a renowned cellist, sought after by conductors the world over. Underneath, he’s a troubled man flirting with addictions to alcohol and anonymous sex. The reason for the discord? Cary knows he’s a liar, a cheat. He's the melody thief.

Cary manages his double life just fine until he gets mugged on a deserted Milan street. Things look grim until handsome lawyer Antonio Bianchi steps in and saves his life. When Antonio offers something foreign to Cary—romance—Cary doesn’t know what to do. But then things get even more complicated. For one thing, Antonio has a six-year-old son. For another, Cary has to confess about his alter ego and hope Antonio forgives him.

Just when Cary thinks he's figured it all out, past and present collide and he is forced to choose between the family he wanted as a boy and the one he has come to love as a man.


Debby said...

I do not think writing about anything is easy. Your books sounds great. Thanks for sharing.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Shira said...

Thanks Debby!

Tali Spencer said...

The books are great! I'm looking forward to Aria next. And here's a quote from Paul Gallico that applies to writing what you know:

"It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper."

Thea said...

In a famous Japanese manga series about an aspiring actress, someone says, "People can smell if it's real or not. If your acting smells real, that's what's going to attract them." I think writing is the same way -- even in a fantastical world that is entirely fictitious, there has to be something "real" that draws the reader in. A touchstone to Truth. You're a brave woman to expose your heart like this, but I think that's what's going to make your readers remember you. Can't wait to read Aria in its final form! ;)

Anonymous said...

Aisling said...
Not only heartfelt, but incredibly accurate, Shira. The Gallico quote that Tali mentions above is very telling and speaks to the heart and soul that you pour onto each page of your books. Simply wonderful. :)