Wednesday 28 December 2016

Does An Author Write Themselves Into Their Stories?

It's a common question. When an author writes about "what they know", are they writing themselves into their story?

I often use the disclaimer: This is a fictitious work. People, places, and events are fictitious. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

To be cheeky: This is a work of fiction, except for the parts that aren't.

Yet, people still fail to see that disclaimer.

While I was writing One Man's Wife, one of the short stories in Twelve Strokes of Midnight, someone I know read it for me. Parts of it were based on me, but not all of them; some were completely fictitious — created purely to entertain the reader. Yes, I wrote it after finishing a long relationship, one through which I endured a lot of pain (besides the good things that were also abundant). Chances are the other half in the relationship felt a lot of pain too.

The person who read the story for me recognised the inspiration but didn't recognise the other parts as fiction. She thought she was reading my inner-most thoughts, mistaking the main character's autophobia (fear of being alone) as mine. I'm not autophobic.

Most of the stories are written in first-person, meaning the narrator is speaking from their experience. One of the stories - Eva - involves an encounter with a vampire that returns every time it snows. Another includes Marilyn Monroe, and so on. I can't say I have known someone who dated Norma Jean, and I definitely don't remember meeting any vampires — not the kind with fangs, anyway!

The same has happened with Dead Cell. One of the main characters, Craig Ramsey, is a psychic detective who can pick up information by touching people or their possessions. He goes to, and performs, at psychic parties and similar events. Yes, I based him upon me... but I also described him as one of my favourite actors, injecting as much of the other personality as I could. I'd rather him get beaten up, even in fiction!

Can you guess who he is?

Sometimes, an author may base characters upon people they know. Sometimes, it's upon an actor; Traci Harding has based characters upon the late Alan Rickman. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, used to imagine himself as the spy's boss, M, sending him to a possible death every mission.

For the most part, although I imagine myself in the characters' roles while writing, I don't write myself into the stories.

But, I am glad if you think so.

All the best,

Chris Johnson
(C) Copyright 2016-2017

PS: It's coming up to the New Year. For a free sample of my writing from Twelve Strokes of Midnight, please sign up for my newsletter. Or tell a friend.

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