I dug back into my blog archives, and I thought you might like to read this one again.
The one question I always get asked is how much of myself goes into creating characters. Do I draw aspects of my own personality when fleshing out the people who star in my books? Do I give my characters my own flaws, and weaknesses, and perhaps my strengths? Do I force my characters to take upon my own bad habits? Are my characters simply reflections of myself?
The answer is yes . . . and no.
Everything I write isn’t a reflection of my own life. I haven’t faced the same kind of things that my character Kylie Galen faces in Born At Midnight. However, I’ll admit my personal experiences not only show up in my work, they help me create real characters and write real emotion. For example, while I’ve never seen a vampire with blood dripping from his chin the way Kylie does in the book, when I worked at a restaurant years ago, I was confronted by an angry credit-card thief with a knife large enough to skin Bambi. And the I-could-die emotion and fear–the uncertainty of not knowing if my underwear was going to come through the situation clean–was the emotional force for a lot of the scary scenes in the book. So when writing about fear, lost love, disappointment, I recall a time in my own life that I felt drowned by that same emotion and it helps me write a scene that reads true.
Now for the five similarities between me and my characters:
1.My ability to laugh in the face of adversity.
I think it’s in my genes, because most of my family is like this. We love to laugh during good times; but we laugh harder during stressful times. It’s as if we follow that old adage, “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.” The hardest I’ve ever laughed was at a funeral. I give this humorous way of viewing life to all my characters. The funny moments in Born at Midnight mostly stem from my characters’ ability to laugh during tough times–to laugh at themselves and laugh at their mistakes.
2. My parents divorced at sixteen like Kylie’s parents.
I remember feeling as if someone had walked into my life and yanked the foundation out from under me. I was angry and hurt. How could they do this to me? I couldn’t understand how they could just stop loving each other. I felt they were acting childishly and as if I was the grownup. And I saw for the first time their flaws and imperfections. When I decided to have Kylie’s parents get a divorce, I immediately remembered the emotional storm that I felt and it all went into the book.
3. Like Miranda, one of Kylie’s new roommates at Shadow Falls Camp, I’m dyslexic. My son is also dyslexic.
I didn’t learn to read until I was in the third grade. School was hard for me. I couldn’t seem to get the written words to stick in my brain. I often got things backwards, like I’d call the backyard, the “yardback,” and when people would snicker, I still couldn’t figure out what was so funny. Things like knowing my right from my left is still nearly impossible. It didn’t help that I could write with both my hands. When I write, I still leave out words, and I’m still a terrible speller. I have critique partners who read and proof my work. But I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, I think I’m accomplished it in part due to it. Dyslexics are very intuitive. We tend to pick up on emotion and I think this has helped me in my writing. Also, being dyslexic, I make a lot of mistakes, but I learned to keep going and I think perseverance is what helped me keep writing and growing as a writer/story teller.
4. Like Kylie, I too felt a bit invisible in high school.
I wasn’t really bullied, but I just wasn’t noticed. Didn’t belong to any ‘In” group. I had a few friends, and like me, they were mostly quiet and went through school unnoticed. Now, I’m so not like this anymore. I think my shyness was in part due to my being dyslexic. But that feeling of never really fitting in played a big part in creating Kylie’s character.
5. Like Holiday and Kylie in Born at Midnight, I have experienced that feeling of being visited by a ghostly presence.
I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s happened to me several times. The first time, I was only ten. My great-grandmother had died, and a few days later, I woke up to her hovering over my bed. She was wearing this beautiful gown and it flowed back and forth, so much so that I didn’t think she had legs. She said she just wanted me to know that she was fine, and that someday I too would have this beautiful gown. My parents told me it was just a dream, but I could’ve sworn I was awake.
6. Like Della, I can be a bit of a smarta$$.
Now I wasn’t like that growing up. It took me years to develop the courage to speak my mind. And I still don’t do it to be mean, but when something really annoys me, I now speak up, and it usually comes out very sassy and sarcastic!
So what about you guys? Anyone here share any traits with my characters?