Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do Characters in a Book Resemble the Author?

A common question for authors is "how much of the story is your life?" You'll see jokes on Facebook frequently posted by authors about "don't make an author mad or she'll kill you off in her next novel," or something along those lines. And to a certain degree it's true. The mogul in Living Canvas was originally based on someone I worked for, an experience we still refer to as the "reign of terror." The character morphed quite a lot during the editing process (that was one of those shelved books that I couldn't get right for a long time). But back to the point. The stories are NOT our lives, however, we do insert snippets of our lives.

There is a part of ourselves in every book, whether it's that evil boss, or that kind soul that did something "above and beyond" for us, an experience we had. I'd venture to say that beyond one "cathartic" book that an author will have to write (which many times never sees the light of day - I wrote mine when I was very young and it was horrible), we do not make personal appearances in our books. Maybe one part of my personality will find it's way into one character, but you can bet that for most books authors and characters should never be confused as one and the same.

I was listening to the radio station this morning and they were talking about ghostly encounters. This is main stream radio, mind you, and it was probably a pre-recorded show from Halloween time or maybe some other newsworthy story from another time.  You know those moments when someone close to you dies and you just know they've come to say their last goodbyes? You woke up at the precise moment they died, certain that they'd touched you? As one woman said, it was the day after her mother died, and she was trying to sleep and very sad, and she felt her mother's touch, stroking her hair to comfort her, and she felt at peace.

Here's an example of taking a "real life" (if you want to call it that - maybe it's "real dead") situation and incorporating it into a book. My stories generally only broach the supernatural rather than go full on into vampires and zombies and such. I prefer to remain on the fringe, into more believable experiences. Although . . . .

Epitaph is a full-blown ghost story. Well, it's a romance, because that's what I write, and it's got that mystery element in it, because that's what I write, but there's a seance, and there's a ghost following the main characters around.

If you tell me you've had an experience with a loved one who has passed, I'm going to believe you, and not count you out as "mental" (to use an adjective from a book I just read). For the record, I have never consciously seen a ghost. I have never spoken with the dead. I don't believe in that psychic down the street who wants to read your fortune. But I don't discount that these experiences actually happen. I've had "psychic" experiences with people I am close to that lead me to believe there is another channel that we tune to sometimes. That's my wackadoodle confession of the day. 

Anyone care to laugh at me or share one of their "wackadoodle" experiences?

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