To which I say, rubbish. Write about what you want to write about, what you're passionately curious about. Then do the necessary research. I have little interest in writing about what I know, because, well, why bother? Writing is very much a process of exploration for me and I don't have much interest in writing solely about what I know because there is no heat of the chase, nothing to discover and uncover.
Take my most recent novel THE TROUBLE WITH DILLY, for example.
It's about a girl, Dilly -- wildly imaginative, exuberant and impulsive -- who lives with her family in a large Canadian city above their family grocery and Indian food take out, and who plays hockey. I've always wanted to write about a girl who played hockey, but I don't know (or rather, didn't know) much about it. Nor did I know anyone who runs a grocery store.
So I did my research. I visited corner grocery stores in a variety of places to try and get the feel of them, to get Dilly's family store right, a sense of the layout and items they'd stock. The atmosphere and pulse.
I also spoke to family, friends and neighbours who knew about hockey, followed hockey games on TV and even went to local Pee Wee hockey game, and met up with the coach and a few girls who played in the team, to hear their stories and viewpoints. It was a huge amount of fun, and a wonderful glimpse into the hockey culture.
I also had to research Christmas customs in Hungary, immigration challenges for new immigrants, some aspects of Chinese culture, and much more.
It was all part of the fun, part of widening my view of life and expanding my horizons of interest.
I like to think this story is a quintessentially Canadian Christmas story, celebrating as it does cultural diversity and hockey.
But it would never have been written if I stuck only to what I know. For that matter, nor would most of the other books I've written.