I got a couple of good comments to my last blog, commenting on writing what we know. Can I tell you a secret, though -- that's not the point I was trying to make. My point was actually to listen to our critics, and by default the examples I used showed the authors writing what they knew.
I'm going to go totally against all conventional writing wisdom and make a statement: I don't necessarily believe in writing what you know. (Gasp! Yes, I'm a rebel.) I do believe in writing the emotions that we know. But if I only wrote according to my life's experiences, I could only write about florists, craft store employees, and mommies. That would be all.
What do I know about being a Japanese man during World War II? Absolutely nothing. How did I learn about it? Extensive research. And then I used that most powerful tool a writer has -- imagination.
I don't think there's anything wrong with writing outside of your area of knowledge. You just need to have the passion to do the research.