Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Author, Write Thyself

There’s an idiot in the village.  Every village has one and the Fens are no exception.  Unfortunately, this time, that idiot might be me.  You see, I have moved into a new flat which means that I’m able to walk to work for the first time in ten years.  This is brilliant because I don’t have to donate an internal organ every time I fill up the petrol tank – take that you thieving petrol tax trolls – and I can protect the little furry animals in the environment by not taking part in the wacky races down the A141 every morning.  I like to think that I am like the glamorous Penelope Pitstop but I rather think I’m more Mutley.  Either way, it was only a matter of time before I was made into strawberry jam.

However, now I’m walking to work my little eccentricities are on show to the public.  When I drove in I could sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody in the privacy of my own car to my heart’s content.  I could twitch, poke my finger in my ear and mutter to myself as much as I liked, nobody was there to see me.  There’s a purpose to my Tourette’s like twitching and muttering, as that is when I do a lot of the thinking behind the stories I write.  While I was locked in a commuting duel with the knob-jockey in the BMW, I was inside the scenes of my stories and sometimes, I would have conversations with the characters. 

The problem is now I’m walking to work, people can see me muttering.  There’s one woman who passes me every morning, I think she’s a hairdresser.  She isn’t impressed by my internal monologue judging by the filthy glare she gives me when she passes me by.  But I don’t care if she thinks I’m mad, nor the others who cross the road to avoid me whilst in the midst of my personal gibbering because I’m within the world of the story I’m writing and busy getting to know the characters I’m creating.

To me the characters are everything, they are what create the story and it is their actions that drive the story along.  Someone asked me recently where I get the ideas for my characters and up to a certain point, there is either a little of me, or elements of people I know, in them.  The novella I am currently working on, called ‘The Hare and the Gallows Tree’ has a character called Adele.  I don’t think she is me in quite a few respects but some of the situations she’s been in have happened to me.  I reckon the character that is the closest fit to me is Linda from ‘The Ghost Hunters Club’, we’ve got the same sunglasses and we are both as acerbic as each other. 

Some of my characters are based around people I know, not entirely, but they give me the spark I need to get the ball rolling.  For example, Anna from The Ghost Hunters Club is based around a combination of friends I know who became single mothers when their partners left them and Detective Constable Saul Watson from ‘The Policeman Who Was Afraid of the Dark’ was inspired by a policeman friend of mine.  After the initial impetus of influence, the character takes on a personality of their own and they cease to be the person I know in real life and they become a fictional individual in their own right.  Apart from Stewart from The Ghost Hunters Club, who really was that dreadful and deserved the, ahem, sticky end that I gave him. 

So how much of yourself do you put into the characters that you create?

To read more about the characters in my stories, you can visit my Amazon page.  You never know who you might recognise…


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  2. I don't think I've written enough to start doing that yet. What I do do though is use bits of people, a few of their characteristics I suppose, as you do. One of the great things about writing is that you can put the people you don't like into situations they don't like.
    For example, in my novel The Darkness Beneath, there's a character who comes to a very sticky and painful end - the most violent death in the book in fact. That was actually me taking my revenge on someone I knew a long time ago, who thoroughly deserved everything he got. :)

  3. You had me at "thieving petrol tax trolls" lol
    I do a lot of my plotting on my hour long commute too. I wonder how much worse my writing would get if I moved within walking distance...

    There are aspects of me in some of my characters (mainly ones I write from the first person). Others I've grabbed zodiac signs and created a character around what traits that sun sign supposedly claims as a starting point (usually I do this with my witch stories). There are so many fun ways to start.

  4. This is a great post, LK, and I can identify completely - I too have a tendency to wander around muttering and laughing to myself, much to the bemusement (and occasional amusement) of passersby...

    Examining your characters' origins is an interesting process. Some of my characters are born within me - they start off as aspects of my own personality, for example - and others begin their lives based on other people. Of course, the best part of creating characters is when they begin to assert their independence, and do what they want to do, rather than what I tell them to do. That's when I know that they've really come to life.

    By the way, I'm loving 'The Ghosthunters' Club', and Linda is my favourite character, so I think I'd probably get on well with you if we met!

  5. I could relate to this! I take long walks around my neighborhood to help me think. And I also talk to myself. If it's winter, I pull my scarf around my face so nobody can see my mouth moving. If it's summer, I pull out my mobile phone and pretend to talk on it.

    Whatever happens, I'm not going to stop muttering out loud. It's too helpful!