chekov

Based on a true story

illariy asked me if any of my stories are based on obscure experiences from my life. The answer to that question is almost all of the good ones. "Write what you know" is actually my favorite writing advice. A lot of people misconstrue that as "write only what you know," but I think that's missing the point. Of course none of us have ever had superpowers or defeated a galactic empire, and I've never had a child but I think my stories about Laura Barton are pretty damn good. The point, though, is that our lived experiences can give truth to the words we write, in tiny every day details and our characters' emotional realities.


Marci Stahl, Avocado at Law and How to Unmask Your Neighborhood Vigilante both draw heavily on the five years I lived in NYC. Marci's terrible apartment in Queens is the exact one I lived in. The arguments she has with Matt come straight out of two past debate topics my students have worked with: Vigilante justice can be justified in a democracy and due process rights ought to be valued above the pursuit of truth in the justice system.

Darcy lives in that exact same terrible apartment in Queens in Dating Older Men and Other Adventures in Growing Up, and following the 7 train tracks is something I used to do when I was too broke to afford other amusements. The Jackson Diner, where she goes with Bruce, is a restaurant where I used to eat, and the discount movie theater on Bliss Street is also real. The Target store in Queens that Natasha visits in Congratulations on an Excellent Kill is where I used to shop, so I guess if you find a reference to Queens in my stories, you should just assume it comes from my life.


Every place that Clint and Natasha visit in Six Cities That Are Not Budapest are real places that I've visited, right down to the ice cream shop in La Paz. Melinda and Sky's crazy train ride in Two (Sort Of) Truths and One Complete Lie is based on a long, miserable journey I took across Kazakhstan. Hermione's journey to collect her parents from Thailand in All Roads Lead to Home is also based on a lot of places I really went -- mostly because I wrote it for PurimGifts, an exchange that requires graphics, so I panicked and chose something I could use my own photographs for. On a slightly grimmer note, Nobody To Help Me (But Myself), which is about Chapel escaping from attempted rapists during a spy mission is based entirely on my own experience getting dragged into an alleyway in Peru by four men who had inappropriate designs on my body. Like Christine, I fought my way out before anything awful happened, but it took me years to understand that it was possible to be feel terrified and act brave at the same time.


I got involved in fandom two years after I moved home from Tokyo. Before Tokyo, I had lived in NYC, and then I was suddenly back in this tiny city in the Midwest. I spent most of my first couple years feeling like an alien, and it's not surprising that shows up in my Star Trek stories. The very first story I ever wrote, Nothing Left to Lose, is about Spock not fitting in with his own people. You're Gonna Make It After All, the first really popular story I ever wrote, is 100% based on my own experiences living in a society that seemed like the polar opposite of home. I've moved on from that theme, but still come back to visit it from time to time. Most recently, A Big Deal in the Resistance is about Finn navigating culture shock after joining the Resistance (and while we're talking about obscure experiences, his desperate yearning for propaganda came from a horrible district team building exercise I was forced to attend).

There could be a whole other post of stories I've written about being the child of an alcoholic, but that's for another day.
That's very enlightening - I've written stuff that I knew in a few fics of mine too.
Thanks for answering my question! This was a fascinating read :-)
Thanks for sharing, especially the non-location details too. It's always interesting to hear which places authors have actually been to or have based on places they've lived, but it's interesting to hear what emotional experiences and lived experiences have contributed; that's not something I think people often talk about.
I had a lovely comment planned out but my roommates are scramming. but, thank you for this and I do this too and why won't my roommates shut up?