A tough one to answer. If you’ve read the book and you know me first hand, it’s obvious I’ve experienced virtually nothing in my novel–a good thing. So to say one should “write from experience” is kind of ridiculous. If we’re all supposed to draw from our experiences, then what’s an imagination for? Imagine someone asking J.K. Rowling about her adventures at Hogwarts, or Anne Rice about her time in old New Orleans with vampires.
What I did draw from was observation, taking noticeable details and dropping them into the story. For example, in chapter zero when Libby enters the drug story, she observes the sour tone of the door bell and how the slanted mirrors on the walls make her look fat. Those two details should have painted an accurate picture of what kind of drugstore she was in. Or in chapter one how Jenny shuffles her feet when wearing slippers (my mother does that!). To me, the tiny details add an element of realism, which was important to me considering I was telling such an outlandish story about a boy with superpowers. So adding the recognizable detail made the story more realistic to me and, hopefully, to you. Things like how a helicopter sounds when it gets close (you can hear the whine of the engine); how in movies a folder about someone always open up to a photo of them; even the way Dalton wore his ties. Small details make the story more real, no matter how crazy the plot.
The other element was people. I wrote exactly how I imagined each character, including their flaws, their eccentricities, or their shining qualities.
Just one example, I never thought Dalton was a dynamic character. To me he was always more of a bore. But that’s just the way he was. He was a mediocre man. Dalton thought Dalton was a wonderful person, but he was the only one who thought so. And that’s how I wrote him.
There is one thing I have personally experienced, much to my mother’s chagrin. I have gone galloping where my co-rider didn’t want to gallop. Sometimes I smile evilly before I gallop, but not always. I can typically hear my mother saying: “F@ck, f@ck, I don’t like this! I don’t like this! Courtney, stop it!” to which I grin and carry on. Maybe it’s bad karma to do that to someone, but I just love to go fast on a horse. It’s an amazing feeling of speed and freedom. My mother will learn to love it, I’m sure.
Other than that, though, all imagination.