When I read a recent blog on our site, I didn’t know whether to laugh or groan. The subject was one I had floating through my head these past few weeks as I thought about my turn to blog. I agree with everything Nancy Fraser said in her well-written article. So now what? I decided to go ahead and add my own take on her topic. So here goes:
There are several questions authors get from readers that are fun and sometimes frustrating to answer.
“Where do you get your ideas?” Well, from all over. Watching people. Watching animals. Watching tv. I once had a story idea for a children’s book pop into my head from a billboard with a donkey on it. I have a children’s book being released next year that is based on my brother’s farm and watching his crazy animals. I’m working on a book right now where the idea came when nephew hit a bowl of baby carrots, splattering orange goo all over the place including the heroine. Writer’s do get creative with the littlest things.
“How long does it take you to write a book?” Since a lot of authors have more than one book going at a time with one ‘resting’ while another is being started, that’s an impossible question to answer. My most recent published book, “Riding for Love” was originally written in the 90’s. Do I say well, twenty years?
Since “Riding for Love” has a local flavor, I’ve been asked from the locals if I used people from the area. With a rather vicious gleam in one woman’s eyes, she asked, “Will I recognize anyone from town? Are you trashing anyone?” Number one, I’d never trash anyone in a book and number two, I didn’t use anyone from town since I didn’t know anyone from this town twenty years ago when I wrote the book. I just changed the setting.
So, do I use people I know? I believe all writers unintentionally do, whether it’s in their characters’ looks, the way they speak, their job or personality. It’s hard not to. The people we know are ingrained in us and whether we intend to or not, they creep into our stories. I have a tendency to initially make all my heroines redheads with freckles and have to make sure I change the hair color in my stories. I come from a family of freckled redheads and it’s what I’m most familiar with.
Then take my short story, “A Year and A Day” in SMP’s Christmas Anthology, “All I Want for Christmas is a Soul Mate.” My husband is a deer hunter, so it was easy to imagine a woman losing her husband in a fall from a tree stand. This is a fear of mine every time I know he’s climbing up those small metal rungs into his small metal tree stand way, way up in a tree I consider too small to hold his weight. Even with his safety harness, I worry.
Then there was my main character’s sister. At the time I wrote my first draft, I was verbally attacked in a series of text messages by a sister who was having some mental issues. Having done nothing to her, it was a devastating and surprising (and still is ) incident. According to my writer’s group, who all read my first drafts, they saw my sister and her actions in the story. I had to step back from my personal life and tone down the sister in the story. I had definitely projected my personal life into the story.
If it weren’t for all those interesting people out there in the world, we’d have a little harder time coming up with characters and situations to put them in. So, sorry if this sounds a little like Nancy’s blog. I’ve never met her, but we think alike.