In my last post, I talked about my own motto: “Write what you’re passionate to know more about.”

I discussed the characters of my Idolwood series – but what happened when Apocalypse Ink approached me to turn Vorare into the FAMISHED novels?

First, I established the protagonist’s interests more fully. In my original concept, Gordon Velander was a teaching assistant focused on Medieval History, because at the time, that was what I knew most about. As I developed the dossiers for the character, I realized he was more of a Classical type. I had taken a Latin word as my original title, and Gordon would be embarking on an odyssey of his own – so I broke out my Homeric epics and took myself to task.

By the same token, I saw he’d be pushed to a practical path by his (absent) father. What practical careers was I interested in? Well … chef, which wouldn’t fly, for obvious reasons. And architecture, which I might have gone into were it not for a total lack of interest in the practicalities of mathematics and measurements. Architecture it was!

That’s where I first learned of Renzo Piano. Where I became more aware of Frank Gehry’s influence on my beloved hometown of Chicago. Where the full sweep of modern architecture became apparent to me.

I reached beyond his Catholic upbringing – for a man who lives with demons under his skin, he remains religious – and encountered the work of Rob Bell and Aruna Roy. And since he was a teacher living in Wisconsin in 2011, of course I learned more about Scott Walker’s anti-intellectual crusade.

In terms of FAMISHED: THE FARM, I had to do some further research for my antagonists, and place them in areas I remained interested in. I’m fortunate to have an elderly neighbor who grew up on a farm and spent most of his life as a short-haul trucker, and was able to interview him about daily life in both areas. The dynamics of cult behavior have always fascinated me, and I made use of that interest to develop the Gentleman Ghouls more fully, while learning more about the psychology of Jonestown and The Family.

While writing FAMISHED: THE COMMONS, there were other interests to consider. What is the state of elder care today? What does the world look like to a second-generation immigrant? How did the first American colonists survive and thrive? Is the hardcore punk scene still relevant?

All of these are questions that continued to interest me. In writing, I found a way to continue learning – at least, learning about those things I remained passionate about.

Find something you're passionate about, and stay tremendously interested in. - Julia Child

But what about the things you couldn’t care less about? (See mathematics and measurements, above.) How does a writer deal with those elements?

Part III of III will appear shortly.