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  • Writer's pictureauthorbetseyk

How Much Is Real? How Much Is Made Up?

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

I get asked all the time, how much of your books are real and how much is just your vivid imagination? That’s not an easy question to answer. My job as an author is to use my imagination to make the reader believe everything is real. I borrow certain things from reality and weave it with the elements from my twisted mind to create a blanket that you’ll want to curl up under and never leave.

But because you’ve asked for it, I can share a few nuggets – some of which I have never shared before, so you are getting super-secret insider information here:

· Lauren’s professor, Dr. Philpott is based on my high school ancient medieval history teacher. Mr. Owen was fond of mixing plaids (it was the 80’s) and he did come into class every Friday in a toga. He would stand on top of his desk and quote Socrates, and then tell a hippy joke. Every. Single. Friday. He was one of the toughest teachers I had, but I loved his class and remember him fondly.

· I do speak a little Tsalagi (Cherokee) … more or less. The University of Oklahoma has a Native American Language program, and I took a semester of Cherokee. The character John Seawolf is very loosely based on our teacher, Mr. Pumpkin, who had to have been in his 90s. His granddaughter drove him down from Tahlequah to Norman every week so he could teach us. He gave each of us a Cherokee name, which is a great honor, and is not repeated. Mr. Pumpkin said, to give someone your name is to give them power (so it is considered rude to ask.) But, like most languages, it is a use-or-lose skill. I don’t have anyone to regularly speak Cherokee with any more, but I do have a few words and phrases I still use on a regular basis, just for fun.

· I also speak French and have taken other language classes including fundamental Spanish (but my brain tries to turn it into French). It would be an insult to say I speak Slovenian or Russian, but I know people who do. I make use of all the resources at my beck and call. If you are a fan and you speak a foreign language, please let me know. I can always use insider information on that kind of thing. I love languages and try to pick up helpful words and phrases I can use when I travel.

· When I wrote The Jaguar Queen (Book 2 of the Veritas Codex Series), I had never been to Chichén Itzà, so I had to rely on research, documentaries, and Google Earth (I use it a lot). When I had the chance to go on a Writer’s Cruise in 2020 (before COVID) one of the excursions we could take was to Chichén Itzà, which gave me a chance to fact check all my research and I was amazed at how pretty darn close I got. So when I got back with publishing contract in hand, and got to the editing process for the Jaguar Queen I was able to enrich the experience for the reader by filling in the gaps.

  • Yes, there are pyramids inside the El Castillo. No, you can’t go inside, nor can you climb the structures anymore either. Tuk is based on our real guide, who was tremendously helpful.

· The character Jean-René is based on several people I have met in my life. I actually played ice hockey for about 10 years and got to be friends with players in our local AAA league. Because I spoke French, I was able to make friends with some of the Québécois player's, their wives, and kids, some of whom had almost no English and needed help navigating.

· Rowan Pierce was the hardest character to name. The first name came easy, but there were four of five other last names I tried before finally deciding on Pierce. It’s an homage to Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H*. I loved him growing up! (To this day, dark-haired, blue-eyed doctors with snarky personalities are my favorite.) The middle name magically appeared when it came time to write it. I didn't think about it, it just felt right, so I went with it. (You'll have to read the series to find out what it is.)

Writing Update:

I have been an industrious little author. I started writing a new episode of The Veritas Codex and I've submitted the manuscript to the publisher for Book 4, The Monk's Grimoire, so now the editing process begins. Expect for a release date sometime after the new year. (The publisher and I have had our plates full for the past couple of months, so we're both running behind schedule - mostly it's me, but that's what happens when you work a full time job and write.)

I've also written a bit for an anthology that should be out later this year, just in time for the Holidays. More on that as details become available.

I have an incredibly packed public appearance schedule for October.

  • I'm going to be a guest on the ParaUnity Podcast in mid-October, but I don't have the air date just yet. It'll be my second appearance on the show and I'm looking forward to meeting Brandon's new co-host, Whitney.

  • I'm also looking forward to being a guest on Mike's Mystery Mansion podcast later this month as well.

  • And last, I am speaking at the Tulsa NightWriter's Craft of Writing Conference in Tulsa on October 16th.

  • If you need a guest for your podcast, virtual conference or other event, send me an email at I'd love to get it on my schedule!

Until next time, stay curious, always!


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