Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such office, Nashville
Weather: Warm and cloudy
Interviewers often ask authors about the connection between a fictional character and the author’s mother, father, husband, wife, child, and the author him or herself. Just last week I read an interview in which the author went to great pains to deny that the main character in her most recent book had anything to do with her own life. I do think some authors develop characters that are the opposite of themselves or in situations or locales that are outside the authors’ experiences. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the quasi-human or demonic characters from authors such as Ted Dekker or Anne Rice in her earlier years.
Nonetheless, I’d have a hard time creating a young male Muslim character from Iraq. In other words, I would have no connection in age, gender, religious faith or nationality with my character. To what extent could I realistically identify with him and paint the details so necessary for maintaining “the fictional dream”?
Well, there is the fact of human love and compassion. I think this is clear in both of Khaled Hosseine’s books. (I’m just starting the second, A Thousand Splendid Suns.) Some point of human identification must be established for readers, and emotional content is the card that trumps outward form and appearance. We all start life with the capacity for feeling, and out of that infant shell develops personality and the will to act–or, as fiction writers say, character and plot.
In your fiction writing, how much do you draw on people you know–or yourself to create characters?