Sunday, the last night of WFC, I was lucky enough to go out dinner with Mark Van Name, L.E. Modesitt, and Eric Flint.
What I'm working on came up. I suppose it was simply the kind thing to do, you know, ask the kid what he's doing and all that. At any rate, they were informed of what I was working on and what I do for a living.
We then talked about that old saw of 'writing what you know'.
L.E. Modesitt said two very interesting things on this point; the first of which was about his worst-selling book (He has 56 novels out there. That's right, FIFTY-SIX!). The poor-selling novel was based on his experiences in DC. The tale he told was quite funny in hindsight: the book sold less than three hundred copies in hardback. Not funny at the time, I'm sure.
The second thing L.E. talked about was the difference between his experience and spy thrillers. Namely, how boring the reality of DC was: no political killings, no international assassins, just a lot of suicides when people were discovered to have sold themselves or accused of crimes they could not live with.
Riding home today, I was trying to figure out what the hell to do about the character that has been giving me a headache for the last few months.
Like a thunderbolt, L.E.'s words came back to me! I was screaming into my helmet like an idiot at 70 miles an hour.
Thank you, L.E.
Plot problem solved.