If I’m in a feisty mood, my automatic response is to answer the “Why don’t you have kids?” question with, “Because they might turn out like me.” If I’m in a melancholic state, I might say something else. Occasionally, “Because they might turn out like Kevin.”
But nine times out of ten, it’s the first flippant response you’ll get. After all, do we really need Sandra clones running around, tormenting the good citizens of the earth? No need to answer that…
Someone saw a photo of my niece recently and remarked that she looked like me. All I could think was, “Poor kid.”
Then I remembered something someone said after they read Suspicious Circumstances. They inferred my female protagonist, Lara Kelly, was an awful lot like me.
I accused them of projecting onto the character.
Then I went back and read the manuscript when I was doing my edits. It had been almost a year since I’d read Suspicious Circumstances at that point, and I spent a lot of time rubbing my temples, cringing.
She’s more like me than I want to admit.
Oh, she’s not me. It’s funny, because if you asked me which of my characters is most like me, I would likely say Jack Roberts, from the Canadian series. Even the name is an inside joke, since I’d always wanted to call a son Jack.
But Lara? Perhaps I was too close to her to see it clearly.
During my recent travels, I was thinking about some of my experiences and I realized that whenever I thought of myself, I saw me about 25 years younger than I am.
I thought of myself as a child. When I looked back through my own eyes at myself, I was still an awkward girl, shy, easily intimidated, wanting to hide in a corner for fear of being noticed or getting into trouble, and that’s no joke. I accidentally broke something and sent myself to bed. I even sent myself to the corner once.
This one Scottish author I like said once that writing, for him, is therapy. Anything that’s going wrong in my life, anything like that, he gives to his character and works out through him.
Now that I think about this, and try to be honest with myself, I realize that there is a lot of me in Lara. Perhaps, subconsciously, I was giving her aspects of my life in a way that was safe in order to work through lingering issues for me.
And perhaps I felt more comfortable looking at some things – an unhappy childhood, being estranged from your family, difficulty trusting people – through Jack’s life, because as a man, people wouldn’t automatically draw the parallels.
Now I’m not only psychoanalyzing my characters, but also my possible subconscious motivations in creating them.
Is this cheaper than therapy, or just giving me more issues I really need to work out with professional help?
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror… I Cor. 13:11-12a In all seriousness, in reflecting on that quote from 1 Corinthians, I think my characters have become mirrors I’m using to examine parts of my life that I’m still processing.
And it’s interesting, because as many of you know, this has been a tough year for me. I’m rebuilding a bridge with my mother after having no relationship with her for over 8 years.
Now I’m doing the final edits on a manuscript that has a theme about forgiveness running through it. The fiction and reality in my life has collided in a way I never could have foreseen two years ago when I finished the first draft. Oh, the forgiveness isn’t between Lara and her mother – it isn’t that blatant. Still, it’s there.
Makes me scared to think about what I’m going to write next.
I wonder how important it is for you to relate to the protagonists you write about, or read about. In thinking about all of this, I’ve realized there is something of me that comes through in Tymen Farraday as well, the other protagonist in Suspicious Circumstances.
Although nobody has picked up on it so far.
So maybe that aspect of my personality isn’t as blatantly obvious as I thought. Although I’m sure that everyone who has read SC so far will now be thinking about it.
I’m having a contest on my blog right now, to win a signed copy of Crimespree Magazine, which has my short story, The Butcher, in it. All you have to do is email me with the name of my short story appearing in this issue. I’m taking entries until tomorrow and will draw and announce a winner on Friday.
I’m also launching a contest tomorrow to win an ARC of my book, Suspicious Circumstances. The details will be revealed at On Life And Other Inconveniences tomorrow.
Author Julia Buckley has read Suspicious Circumstances and asks me about the book, meeting Ian Rankin and I finally divulge the truth about how I met my husband.
So, if you’d like to continue psychoanalyzing me, check out the link.
I’m going to go lie on a couch.
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