If my books are a reflection of ‘what I know’ then I really should be locked up, quite frankly, and doing life. But it is important to get inside the bad guy’s head as well as the good guy’s. So, no, hand on heart I know nothing about murder but what I do know is that my character still needs to have very human qualities. He or she might be ‘unfeeling’ in regards to the way they go about killing someone or abducting a child but, ultimately, even they are affected by life. Perhaps just in a different way to the rest of us.
Then, in terms of the good guys, am I writing what I know? No. Because, thankfully, these things have never happened to me. But, again – just like the bad guy – I am writing emotions. Emotions are universal, whether we are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Writing will always require research to make it feel credible. But, at the end of the day, I write to entertain an audience. So that, hopefully, readers will lose themselves in my words and forget their everyday lives.
The most amazing effect any writer can hope to have on a reader is that wonderful, ‘Ah, yes, so sad. I would feel that too.’ Or, ‘I kind of feel sorry for that guy. Even though I shouldn’t.’
You’ve given the reader the great gift of emotion. Albeit the tears might be for the ‘wrong’ person.
After all, characters – like humans – don’t exist in a black and white world. Thankfully, we have grey.