One of the most common pieces of advice given to writers is ‘write what you know’.
Now obviously, this isn’t always possible. Especially when it comes to fiction. I mean, how would all those fantasy tales or stories set in other galaxies get written if people only wrote about their own experiences? And let’s not even consider the popularity of murder mystery novels.
That being said, ‘write what you know’ remains sound advice. Advice that I take very seriously when writing Jaspa’s Journey. In fact, most of my books are based on my own travels and exploits.
Even so, Jaspa’s Waterloo takes this to the next level…
If you’re familiar with Jaspa’s Journey, it will hopefully come as no surprise that the Waterloo battlefield, just outside Brussels in Belgium, is today just as it’s described in the book. The same goes for the recounting of the battle that took place there in 1815. But there’s another true aspect of the book. One you might not expect.
A major theme in Jaspa’s Waterloo is geocaching. For those who are unaware, geocaching is a like a worldwide scavenger hunt based on GPS technology, which can be played by anyone with a handheld GPS device or a smartphone.
In the book, a bully called Gobber dares one of Jaspa’s friends to attempt a geocache called ‘Waterloo 1815’ (GCAC68), which takes them around the whole battlefield. Along the way they grab two more caches: ‘In View of Lion Hill’ (GCG0RC) and ‘The Eagle’s Last Battle’ (GC7A16).
You may not be surprised to discover that all of these caches were real and active at the time the book was written (I still have their ‘GC’ codes stuck to my monitor). Indeed, ‘The Eagle’s Last Battle’ remains active to this day, and so is still available for geocachers to find!
You may even have guessed that Sue and I actually did all three caches while researching Jaspa’s Waterloo. In fact, if you visit the cache pages on geocaching.com (follow the links above) and scroll all the way back to November 12th, 2008, you can still see our logs for yourself. They’re even signed ‘Jaspa’s Journeyers’, the same as in the book!
But what you might not expect, is that all the troubles Jaspa and the others have to overcome in the book to find Waterloo 1815… they’re all real, too! (I don’t want to spoil the story by describing those troubles here.) The only difference is I put the blame on Gobber in the story, whereas in real life it was just down to a bit of bad luck.
So, do I take the advice ‘write what you know’ seriously?
You bet I do! And then some!
The above post is taken from this month’s Fiction Meets Fact Newsletter. To receive future newsletters in their entirety (together with a Free Jaspa’s Journey Booklet including the short story Freefall over London and Jaspa’s Journey images to colour), click on the image below.
Expand the minds of your strong middle grade readers by travelling the World with Jaspa’s Journey adventure novels! The first four – The Great Migration, The Pride of London, Jaspa’s Waterloo, and The Hermit of Kennecott – are now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more information.