There are many ways in which the work of crafting fiction is very different from living life.
One of these is in the following adage – It is more important to sound like you know what you are talking about than to know what you are talking about.
In life we call people who live like this con-men/women or psychopaths. An attorney, truck driver, or thoracic surgeon who lives this way will likely eventually end up in jail. But in fiction it is a skill, even a great asset to be able to pull this off. At some point constructing a great story demands it.
How about an example.
I have a colleague who is working on a novel (it is shaping up very nicely!) about a newly-retired, washed-up, Afghani drug lord. A selection I read lately takes place in Hong Kong. After reading the selection I told the writer that I was impressed by the way this character – whom I had read in other settings – seemed so comfortable in this place, moving around with ease, navigating the city and going from place to place in his highly entertaining, character-specific way. I explained that I thought he’d melded character and setting very well.
I later learned that this writer has never been to Hong Kong, that such a place might as well be on the moon. This writer had done a thoroughly convincing job of sounding like he knew what he was talking about. I felt like I was reading about Hong Kong. I felt like I might, when at dinner with friends, be able to speak knowledgably about street life in a city 8,000 miles away. But then, I’d be living the adage. Risky business.
In the end, I was reading a story set in a place that looks like and has the same name as Hong Kong, a fictional place that both the writer and I know very little about. This conspiracy, this is one of the delights of fiction.