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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Putting yourself in a book

"Do you put yourself into your books?"

That's a common question directed to authors. "Is that character you?" "Where did you get the inspiration for Character X?" "Is that smarmy villain really your ex?" Oh, and the big one: "How do you rehearse your sex scenes?"

Honestly. It's as if no one in human history ever made anything up. News flash: we're writers. We're paid to make stuff up. Our careers would be short and rather sad if we had to stick to the truth.

So, just for the record: none of my heroines is me. Not the world-weary succubus sex slave. Not the fairy diamond thief, or the kick-ass banshee gangster girl. Not even the atheist medical examiner or the crafty vampire angel-slayer or the sexy interstellar secret agent.

It would be cool to be these people. As much as I would love to be as awesome and kick-ass as the lady on this book cover? Uh. No.

And – sorry, honey – none of my heroes is my husband. Nor are they any of my exes. As for how I rehearse my sex scenes… well, maybe I have a posse of sexy fairies and hot angel warriors chained in my basement. You'll just have to use your imagination.

However.

They say (yeah, They. You know Them, right?) that every writer has a 'core story'. A theme we return to over and again, possibly without even realizing it. The question or problem or heartfelt grievance that drives us to be a story-teller in the first place.

My core story seems to be the person inside. Or possibly the evil within. I haven't figured it out yet. But most of my stories feature a character who chooses to be – or is forced to be – something they're not. Someone with voices in their head, or a reckless inner impulse, or a second self that tempts them to do bad things. Who knows the difference between right and wrong, but for some reason walks the darker path.

Perhaps they're all possessed by this guy... Bob from Twin Peaks

Where the hell does this come from? I have no idea. I don't hear voices. I'm not bipolar or ethically challenged or possessed by a demon. I'm not suppressing an evil inner self (bwahaha… I tell you that) or groaning under a yoke of personal oppression, at least no more than any other white, college-educated, comfortably middle-class woman drowning in the tasty chocolate milkshake of her first-world problems.

But for some reason, over and again, I return to this theme of duplicity. Perhaps my stories understand me better than I understand myself. Maybe all of us really are two people: the one we show the world, and the one we secretly want to be.

Or maybe this theme has nothing to do with me, and it's just fun to write about.

Yeah. That must be it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Do you find yourself choosing books to read that have the same theme, over and over? If you're a writer: what's your core story, and what are the different ways you've dealt with it?

P.S. a treat for paranormal and urban fantasy lovers: my sexy vampire romance short story Hunter's Blood is currently reduced to $0.99 on Kindle and Nook!

A powerful young vampire demon-huntress teams up with a legendary slayer to rid their city of soul-munching demons – but he's already broken her heart once. Will he betray her again in his burning quest for revenge? 

Demon-slaying, magic spells, action and hot romance. Awesome. Check it out!

4 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Erica, What a fun post! I've 3 completed manuscripts and there is an element of 'trust' running through each of them. But that is something I've seen in hindsight, after taking workshops where I was told I had a central theme I'd return to time and time again.

The part of me I see in my characters is that each of them works in a profession that I've personal experience in...at least so far.

There are days I wish I had the unflagging energy, stick-to-it-iveness, etc. that my heroines have.

What's important from my perspective is that we have fun writing the stories. And since you do, how cool is that?

D. McCollum D. McCollum said...

Great post! And great price on "Hunter's Blood". I'm picking that up for my Nook today.

Sarah Raplee said...

What a thought-provoking (and funny!) post, Erica!

If Nora Roberts' core story is, "You have to discover who you really are," then mine is, "You have to decide who you want to be." Both themes are about connection and responsibility. They are stories of redemption.

For example, in my first book, the heroine is an ex-con who served time for attempted murder (she was guilty.) When she is framed for the murder of her former victim, she must prove her innocence and decide she is worthy of love.

Erica Hayes said...

It's interesting, isn't it? Even when we think we're just making stuff up for fun, there's often this deeper meaning behind it. Heh :) who says we're not writing 'serious' books?