Learning from Experience ~ Outside the Margins with Anna Zabo

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Anna Zabo goes Outside the Margins today.


There’s a tank parked outside the entrance to the Senator John Heinz History Center and I’ve been driving past it every day on the way to my dayjob. It’s there because the History Center currently has an exhibition about WWII and the role people from western Pennsylvania played in the war and how the war changed the region. (The history center is named after the late Senator Heinz; it’s not about him. Its focuses on regional history and has a partnership with the Smithsonian Institute.)

When they first got the tank into place, there was no signage, just some guys in and on the tank talking to folks who had stopped to watch a tank being unloaded from a carrier and parked in front of the museum.


At the time, I thought, “Wow! That’s a small tank!” And it is.

Later, when I drove past, bleary-eyed one morning, I noticed there was now signage, including a Sherman Tank Parking Only sign. And my brain did one of those disconnect things and I thought. “That’s a Sherman tank?? HUH!”

I’d assumed Sherman tanks were much larger. Much larger. Like crushing a car larger. In fact, this thought was so wedged in my head, had I actually written about a Sherman tank, I probably would have described it incorrectly. (Though, to be honest, it probably could crush my Mini Cooper.)

It was a good reminder that even when we think we know something, we may not.

When I was in New York City for RWA, I was reminded how absolutely hectic and vibrant the city can be. I also realized you can walk by the Empire State building and not notice it if you’re intent on finding something else. It can also be amazingly beautiful. You can also walk a few blocks from Broadway and find yourself in a dive bar with a pig out front. But you can also discover cocktails for five dollars.

When at all possible, it’s best to experience the things you’re writing about, whether it be the atmosphere of a city or going to see an actual tank or rocket or working farm or whatever. Because sometimes our impressions are skewed in ways we might not realize, even if we do a ton of book research.

I do realize not everyone can, you know, jet off to wherever. And a lot of folks don’t have time machines to wander back into the past with…so there are certainly limits. The next best thing would be asking folks about their experiences, or having an expert read over what you’ve written.

But if at all possible, go experience as much as you can. Even if its just to your local museums. You never know when you might discover a tank parked out front.


~Anna Zabo


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About Anna Zabo

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. You can find her online at http://www.annazabo.com/ or more often on Twitter as @amergina.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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