Somewhere, I'm sure, someone has compiled a list of mandatory questions to ask a writer. And all of us, I'm equally sure, have been compelled to answer them at one time or another.
“When did you start writing?”
“How long did it take you to write your book?”
“Where do you get your ideas?”
But this past weekend, I was living every fledgling writer's dream... I was hosting a launch party for my debut mystery novel, “End of the Road”. In between thanking my guests for their support, I was fielding many questions in a similar vein. And then it happened—I was asked a question that I had never been asked before.
“Which character is you?”
That gave me pause. Up until then, I had my stock answers to their stock questions all ready to be trotted out. But this one made me stop and think.
Of course, a writer creates their characters, but not, as some might think, out of thin air. At some time, the writer has met someone who sparks an idea for a character (work in retail long enough, I guarantee you'll have a never-ending treasure trove of potential murder victims.) But the reality, of course, lies in that question.
Which character is the writer?
Many people seem to think that the writer automatically identifies with the hero/heroine of the story, especially if the character is good-looking, brave, resourceful, and manages to thwart the villain with near-superhuman martial arts skills while demonstrating a rapier wit and a flair for appreciating fine wines. Perhaps it's true that the writer creates a larger-than-life hero or heroine, a character everyone would like to be, but very rarely do such characters mirror the actual flesh-and-blood person who created them.
If you want to find the writer in any of his or her characters, look for the flaws.
That's where the fear of the dark, of spiders, of failure, of love and commitment, of success, all those things that make the characters REAL is where you will find the author. It's only in the anonymity of writing fictional characters that a writer has the freedom to admit their own flaws and find a way to overcome them (or avoid them!) while creating characters with whom the majority of readers can identify. It's where you'll find me. But I didn't exactly say that in answer to the question.
What I did say was, “There's a little of me in ALL the characters.”