If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


June Interviews













6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer


Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron


WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now

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Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!


Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.


Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

How Much Are Our Characters Like Us?

                                                                              
One of the things I wonder about is how much of themselves a writer puts into their characters. Is their protagonist a lot like themselves, at least somewhat like themselves or totally different? Is Janet Evanovich as quirky as Stephanie Plum? I know from reading the short author's bio on the back or inside cover of their book, that authors might have some expertise in the job or profession they've given their main character. Or if they didn't, was it a profession or job they would like to have? If an author is shy or retiring, do they make their protagonist outgoing, bold or brave?

Nevada Barr was a forest ranger with the National Park Service when she started writing her Anna Pigeon books. She not only knew the parks she wrote about, but the politics of how the Park Service is run, and the things that can and do happen in our National Parks, but I wonder if she is anywhere near as brave as Anna Pigeon. Did she ever have some of the close calls she writes about or knew of another ranger having them?

Alan Bradley, who writes the Flavia de Luce series, is obviously not a precocious eleven yearl old girl, but has he always loved chemistry like Flavia? Was his childhood anything like hers? Or is she totally a figment of his imagination?

Although I've met Rhys Bowen and heard her speak at conferences and read her series, I'm not sure how much her main characters are like her. But if I had to choose which one was the most like her between Molly Murphy, Evan Evans or Lady Georgiana, I'd pick Lady Georgiana.

I buy many books from authors I've met or heard speak at conferences, especially those from Sisters in Crime Guppies - and as I've gotten to know them over the years, when I read their books, I can hear their voice in their main characters - the tone, the speech pattern, the word choices. I can also see their body movements in my mind, and I don't think it's just my imagination.

                                                                                
Gardening has been a hobby of mine for years. (And no, the picture is not one of my gardens.) I love puttering about in the garden; planning, digging, planting and even weeding, so it was natural that I gave my protagonist, Catherine Jewell, something to do with gardening. However, I never wanted to make gardening more than a hobby, but it's a profession for Catherine, a botanist at a large public gardens. Although I'm not as young as she is, there are a few other things about her that mirror me. It may be a case of the old advice, write what you know. And who do we know better than ourselves? Well, some of us may be delusional.

If you're a writer, how much of you is in your main character?  If your book or a favorite book of yours was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character? Take this a step further, if a movie were to be made of your life, who would you want to play you?

18 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

Only in my first novel did I intentionally base the main character on myself--big mistake--ms. in drawer. It's unavoidable that we enmesh ourselves in our characters. Our attitudes, our beliefs, what we notice our characters notice. It's the undercarriage of ourselves that's transferred inadvertently to our characters.

Which is all fine, unless your readers superimpose your character's experiences onto you. I wasn't an abused child although some readers jumped to that conclusion.

Who would I pick? Jessica Lange? Sybil Shepard? Hard choice.

Gloria Alden said...

I think it's a matter of how much of ourselves are in our main character. I didn't set out to make my main character like myself, and I don't think she's like me, however, there are little things - the way she likes her coffee, etc. that are me, and yes, certain attitudes and beliefs.

I'd like Elizabeth Taylor to play me, and that's a big joke, of course. Not only because she's deceased, but no one could look less like me.

Fran said...

My characters are usually alter egos from myself. So part of me is in them or sometimes the way I would like to be but never dared or never would be. At certain times it feels like a multiple personality split or mental method acting ;-) With each character you have to know how s/he feels what they see or smell or how they think.

judyalter said...

I put so much of me in my first mystery, Skeleton in a Dead Space, that my oldeest daughter described it as a "highly autobiographical" novel. I think she means mostly the single parent aspect.

June Shaw said...

What a great topic! Many readers have said they love Cealie Guthner, main character in my humorous mystery series. Some say they want her as a friend. She's a spunky widow trying to avoid her hunky lover to rediscover herself. Cealie is a combination of three people closest to me. She's who I want to be.

Gloria Alden said...

Fran, I think you're right. The romantic interest of my main character, something that develops very gradually, is a little bit of me, too. He's a great lover of books.

Judy, I think that's natural to some extent. My protagonist has a back story that also comes out slowly that is somewhat like mine, but with a different twist.

June, I was sure Cealie was a combination of you and your mother.
You mean you're not as spunky as she is?

Linda Rodriguez said...

My protagonist, Skeet Bannion, has a lot in common with me, but some very important differences. She's younger, taller, thinner, better looking, healthier, and stronger than I am. Like me, she has a Cherokee grandmother who played an important role in her upbringing. Unlike me, she's not at ease with her heritage, mostly because it comes through her mother, and Skeet has major mother problems.

I think Penelope Cruz would make a good Skeet. As for me, Sandra Bullock or Glenn Close (I wish!).

Warren Bull said...

I've tried to write about characters similar to me. I was successful once when I wrote myself as a character but in all other attempts I was too boring to be a character.
I sometimes write an idealized version of me or a character who does things I would do if I was more brave/reckless. A young Warren Beatty could play me in a movie. He gets more goggle hits for "Warren" than I do.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, Catherine is not only younger than me, but she's taller and thinner, too, and better looking, also. That's one of the great things about being a writer, isn't it? We can create an alter ego something like what we'd wish to be.

Warren, don't you think most of us don't live exciting lives. At least not enough to make our story riviting. Are you sure Warren Beatty actually does get more google hits than you? Have you checked it out recently?

Patg said...

Needless to say, my main character had tons of me in her, but she and all my characters reflected the thousands of travel people I worked with over 45 years. Sure I envision a movie. Glenn Close or Meryl Streep for Prudence or Donna Makely. Both would do the protagonist and the antagonist well. Funny, I've never given a thought to the villian.
Patg

Krista said...

What a terrific blog post, Gloria! I think I'm a lot like June. Sophie is often who I'd like to be. She has more courage than I do. If she were like me, my books would be very boring.

Sophie is blond, but I can see Valerie Bertinelli playing her, or maybe Reese Witherspoon.

I love Warren Beatty playing Warren Bull!

Who would play me? Hah! Tall, thin, and elegant -- everything I'm not! Sigourney Weaver or Catherine Zeta-Jones.

~ Krista

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great post, Gloria. I think a bit of me is in each of my sleuths. Of course they're all more courageous and adventurous than I'd ever be.

Daryl Wood Gerber a.k.a. Avery Aames said...

Gloria, good post. I think Charlotte Bessette is like me "young". She's a fixer and I am definitely a fixer, to my detriment. I'm not sure I'd ever circumvent the law, however, though I am curious and often see things differently than a cop would.

I'd love to see Rachel McAdams play Charlotte. She has a lot of spunk. And yes, I'd like to see her play "me" as a younger woman. Right now, Sandra Bullock would probably be a good choice. (Aha, see the difference a few years can make? LOL)

~Avery
AveryAames.com

Anonymous said...

Gloria,
Great blog!
I know in my first manuscript Cici, the main character, had a love of my hobbies - running and stained glass. And Maggie, the main character in my young adult book had memories of her childhood that were actually mine. And her character traits are much like my son...stubborn, soccer goalie. I think parts of us do come out because it's what we know.
Mary

Gloria Alden said...

I am so enjoying reading your comments about your characters and who would play their parts as well as who would play you.

I can see Glen Close or Meryl Streep as Prudence and as you, too, Pat.

Krista, you may think you're more like June, but when I read your books, I picture Sophie as you. As for bravery, I don't think many mystery writers are brave like their protagonists.

Good choices, Avery. Who knows, maybe someday a movie will be made using her as Charlotte.

I only have two sleuths, Marilyn, my protagonist, Catherine, and her romantic interest, the police chief, John, and yes a little of me is in each as I've mentioned. Because in my first book, the initial murder is a first for each of them, they muddle around a little just like I would in a similar situation. But I wouldn't do any investigating like Catherine does. I'd let someone else do it.

Gloria Alden said...

Mary, I picked up on the running, but I'd forgotten the stained glass part.

I've given Catherine a few memories of her childhood that were mine, too. I'd forgotten about that. And as you know, John, has some of the characteristics of my son, Joey.

Alyx Morgan said...

Since we each have so many facets to our personality, I'd say it's quite probable that our literary characters are like us in some way. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to tap into their personality quirks so well.

At least I like to imbue each of my characters with some aspect of myself, even the villains. It's a nice way to live vicariously as it were. It can also be a cathartic experience to help get rid of some hidden issues.

I envision a teenaged Christina Ricci when I think of my protagonist. I don't see anyone else like her right now. As to who would play me, I'm not sure. Looks-wise, nobody, but for sheer personality, it would have to be either Sandra Bullock or Emma Stone.

Gloria Alden said...

I think you're right about having so many facets to our personality, Alyx. A lot depends on the situation we're in or the people we're with. As for villain, I don't see myself so much in my villain in my first book, but there are definitely a few of my quirks in the villains in the 2nd two books.