The ‘Write What You Know’ advice has never made any sense to me.
The first story I ever wrote, back when I was in middle school, took place on an intergalactic space ship and featured a set of twin teens that had been raised separately by their estranged parents. The first story I ever signed for publication (CheckMate with Linden Bay Romance in 2005) is about a vampire falling in love with a vampire hunter. The latest of my releases (Anterograde, published in June) is about a gay couple, doctors and amnesia in a world under siege by demons.
If I try to figure out what I knew about any of those settings or situations when I started writing, the list is rather short. I knew what it was to be a teen when I wrote the first story; I knew what it’s like to be in love for the others. By the end of Anterograde, I'd done some extensive research about amnesia. But the whole point of writing for me, the fun part, is the same as when I’m reading: I get to experience lives and situations that are completely foreign to me.
So, how to choose what to write?
I know some authors who plan everything according to the ‘market’ and the hottest trends at any given moment, jumping on bandwagon before they slow down to a crawl. Good for them for being so marketing-savvy. Frankly, I can’t think of anything more boring for me personally.
My writing is all over the place. I have sweet-no-sex books and erotica with little to no plot. I have ‘vanilla’ sex and various flavors of BDSM with either a Dom or Domme in charge of one or several subs. I have M/F, M/M, M/F/M, M/M/M pairings, and various combinations thereof. I’ve written stories set in the past, contemporary stories, post-apocalyptic stories, stories set in a different dimension or in space. I’ve written about magic practitioners, vampire hunters, vampires, shifters, married couples, parents, a queen, PAs, soldiers, movie stars, millionaires, seers… and even normal humans.
Sometimes, I wonder if I should apologize to my readers for being so… inconsistent, I suppose. I doubt I’m ever going to get a following for writing the best of X, Y or Z books, because I have too much fun writing X and Y and Z. And I realize that, on a marketing point of view, I’m probably shooting myself in the foot by writing such different books.
But at the end of the day, I’m not going to change what I choose to write, for a very simple reason. I’ll never be able to control whether people buy my stories or not. If big publishing houses with advertisement budgets worth more than my house can’t guarantee a best seller, I certainly can't. What I can control is whether I have fun writing, and I am of the firm opinion that if a writer enjoy themselves taking their characters on a journey, it’ll show in the final book. So I’ll keep writing what I feel like writing, what I have fun writing, what calls to my writing muse and my inner reader.
Lately, it was a M/M/M BDSM short, and now it’s a long M/F vampire serial that just might turn M/F/M on me. Maybe a lot of readers will enjoy them, maybe only a few, but I know one thing: I enjoyed myself writing, and that’s half of the battle right there.