Once I let my sister read a chapter of DOUBLE DIAMOND DELUXE, a story about three sisters looking for love in Las Vegas. The chapter my sister read was about a character named Jackie. I remember her putting the pages down, and saying, and she said this very angrily, “I never did that!”
My sister was right, she never did do that, but Jackie did. Sure, Jackie looked a lot like my sister, with her beautiful long curly brown hair, and had the same fiery temper (my sister’s a Gemini, she can’t help it) but in reality Jackie was me, in disguise, at a particular time in my life, doing the exact same things I had done – and maybe a couple things I wish I had done. The same thing happened when my mother read SKYDOLL and DOUBLE DIAMOND DELUXE, two stories with two different “motherly” minor characters. “Mom, it’s not you!” I kept telling her, because it wasn’t – anymore. Friends and ex boyfriends also make a few appearances. Sometimes I’ll take all the good qualities from one person, to make the perfect hero, and then I’ll take all the bad qualities from the exact same person to create the perfect villain – One person, two new characters. These characters will then begin to morph into other friends I know as the book moves along, until the characters themselves actually begin to form a life of their own.
It’s confusing, I know. Here’s an example of how this sort of thing works. I’ve created a flight attendant character named Holly (yes, that’s my sister’s name) in SKYDOLL. She’s the best friend to the lead character. Now Holly is actually based on my real life best friend Cady (who will be guest blogging sometime this month.) After a couple of rewrites, Holly began to look and dress like another friend, Grace. Not long ago, an agent read SKYDOLL and stated that she thought the book would make for good TV. Well that got me thinking…how about Will and Grace in the air! A fantastic idea! So now the flight attendant best friend character in the book, who originally was Holly, is now John, and John is now doing things that Holly had done. As you know, I have a very funny friend named John in real life (Who may also be guest blogging – if I ever hear back from him. He’s in Paris, lucky guy)
Hemingway wrote, in “One Hundred False Starts”: Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves. That’s the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives, experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before. Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories each time in a new disguise. Maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.
So you see, I’m not alone. In fact, my character makes a brief appearance in the book RED STATE OF MIND (How a Catifsh Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle), by Nancy French. It’s true! I’m on page 87 in the chapter titled Blind Date. You can check out Nancy’s blog by clicking on her name over there to the right under WRITER FRIENDS.