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Am I In It? Or are you?

One of the things which seems to be of most interest to people when they find out that you have written a novel is the matter of where you find your characters, and if they are based on people you know. Perhaps you have even included your friends and family as models in your work...

Everyone is, of course, different in the way that they write, so there may well be people who include in their fictional works characters who others can readily identify as pen portraits of people they know. However, I would not put a character in my book who was easily recognisable as someone that I knew. The main reason for that is I think I would feel constrained to make my character behave in the same sort of way as their inspiration. One of the key reasons we write is to invent and create characters who will behave in the way we need them to for the purposes of our book. This is not to say that I have not taken various character quirks and qualities from people whom I know, of course I have, but the characters I end up with are often combinations of different people and qualities, fanciful mixtures which do not occur in real life. I have been asked if Gladia or Benakiell or Achillea are based on specific people, but they are not. They may have one small mannerism which I have borrowed form someone I have met- for instance I used to know someone who used to pinch or poke me in the arm just as Gladia pokes Talla in the arm at frequent intervals, but the rest of Gladia's character and appearance is different from that person.

The other thing which people love to do is to try to figure out things about you as a person through reading your writing. Because my books are written in the first person, it can seem as if I might be Talla. Of course there are elements in Talla's character which I feel closer to than others, and some o f the aspects of her life may have small parallels with my own. Talla is raised in the all-female world of the Temple which is much regulated by rules and timetables. I went to a boarding school in my secondary years. My school was similarly governed by all manner of arcane rules and timetables and traditions, though it was nothing like the Temple in other regards! But Talla is not me. Writing from her viewpoint, as if it is her telling the story is important because, in the end, all stories are told and read from a personal viewpoint. Inhabiting Talla's character allows me to try out different viewpoints and ideas which she, the character may hold but which I, the author, do not.

We all write from what we know or think or believe. It is part of us, after all, so we cannot help putting ourselves into every book we write in some small way. The issues we think are important, the wisdom we may have, the "truths" which we know, or which we discard are all revealed in our writing, either consciously or unconsciously. Hopefully, though, my books will reveal in their stories not just things about me but will help you realise things about yourself and about your truths and understandings.

In the meantime, there are further books and stories and characters to come. So who knows if some small part of your character will be forever immortalised in a later character! Would you like to be included in this way, or would you hate the idea?

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Mmm, I may recognise a quality or quirk and think "oooh that's me, or, I do that!" but I probably wouldn't recognise myself, it depends on what details the author had chosen. As you say, our own version of ourselves wouldn't be the same as what someone else sees.


Sep 15, 2019

Do you think we would recognise ourselves if someone else wrote us into a story? I feel like I might recognise my version of me but maybe not somebody else's!!


I think it would depend on the quality I saw reflected! It wouldn't upset me as such, if it was a negative trait, but it might make me think about how people perceive me, or maybe not, I'm at the age where I'm not that bothered any more! I would be flattered that someone had found me interesting enough to include in a book.

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