I used to have two writing shirts. one black one with a caution tape montage saying “I’m a writer, if you aren’t nice to me I might kill you in my next book.” and a white one with a typewriter that said “I’m a writer, I make the voices in my head work for me.”
I have no clue where both went, if I had to replace only one, i would get the second one as I think that truly describes me more. However, people sometimes react more like I am going to do the first.
The first Question that I get asked when people find out I am a writer is what do I write and that is fairly standard. I’m published, just not successful. its usually when I have word pulled up on my tablet and am typing away on my keyboard that people ask what I am doing. Apparently, it isn’t anywhere close to normal for someone to be using a word processing program in public anymore. does no one do any homework? No one has that important report due on Wednesday?
The times that my novels jsut naturally come up in conversation, that is more understandable (oh cool, what do you write about)? But that “what do you write about” is also a loaded question too. My logic likes to kick in and give an answer as to the immediate chapter I’m working on, but since only like 7 people read my stories, that goes over about as well as a fart in an elevator. Even if you are known, you don’t want to just say “I’m at the fight scene between the MC and the Antagonist,” we don’t even go for the title and the first attempt (or knowing any other writer as our novels usually need that descriptor anyway, the thirteenth) at the synopsis, we just go for genres.
We usually try to keep it vague to “I’m a sci-fi writer” or “I write fantasy” or the like. For me, I’m not even a decent single genre girl. I have to go into dark-fantasy which is its own little cluster of things from Urban fiction to fantasy to some horror rolled up into a nice little package. The only thing about all these new Netflix series that have been coming out post COVID is that a lot of them are Dark-Fantasy. It is easier to say the Templar Saga is close to “The Protector” in style if people bothered to see Turkish fiction on the platform, or “Wu Assassins” as another example even “Warrior Nun” is close as these all thrust normal people into a thankless job protecting society, without even any acknowledgement from the general public. The world doesn’t change if they succeed in their job, but it definitely gets worse every time they fail. I hate to say it but sometimes I get to the point where i get jealous because I was publishing that in 2016 before most of that even hit Netflix, and I was working on it since I was 15. However, it is merely a case of me needing to polish up my own work and work on myself more. it has nothing to do with anything else.
If you are still here, you might have wondered “Why the title?” It’s because of the shirt and the second question people usually ask. that is “Do you use real people for your characters?”
Other than maybe elements of myself which is impossible for a writer to get away from, No. I purposefully avoid using real people as characters in my novels. There are too many times I have named a character, thinking that the name was all original, only to realize that I knew the person later or (in a couple cases) meet a person with a name that matches them and has their personality days after I posted several Second Semester chapters with her character in them. (For those who bothered reading Second Semester, try explaining to Robin that you wrote her character profile and published chapters about her…. that was nerve wracking combo. The only thing I had going for me was the real life person was ALSO a writer).
What is unavoidable is that you will probably use a name (if you write characters that exist in a world like ours and use names like ours) that will match someone else. I try to avoid using names that are tied to people close to me at all to avoid the accusations of “you are using my likeness!” and the such. Most of the time, we don’t or we don’t mean to and that is an honest truth. what we are using are our on facets of personality and our own trauma to make characters. Jena Beckhart is born out of several tragedies in my life and part of her character is born from something that I wanted a lot: a leadership friend in adulthood that would stand between me and the fire of life when that fire threatened to consume me. There are some serious stories of childhood abuse behind the genesis of Jena, Lone Wolfe, Angela, and a few others that will come to the series as I publish them.
So, we try to avoid names that are common in our life but it isn’t avoidable. At someone point I am sure an Angela will come up to me and say that I must have been spying on them. I know a few Angela’s. I chose that name because I wanted that character to blend in, like most of my characters especially since she doesn’t know all her parentage yet.
In short, No, we don’t put people in our books, unless someone specifically says “Put me in your book!” and we somehow agree. Trust me, we don’t want to kill off unnecessary characters, that’s too much paperwork.
What do people think about you when they hear you are a writer?
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Those two tee-shirts are excellent! You’ll have to get replacements, lol. I find it’s great that only 2 people around me know I write. In this way there’s nobody to make any assumptions about me.
lol, my grandmother and great grandfather on my father’s side came from Turkey, I already get assumptions, and I’m trans so I just keep piling on the assumptions. Why not add writer to the mix, lol. It’s awesome that you can still operate underground like that 😉
I have found people from my life turning up in my books, with changed names. Largely due to their personalities and things that they were involved in being enough to get the creative juices flowing. Of the two tee shirts, I like the second one better. I would prefer to be anonymous at home, at events I can always hide behind my pen name.
True on the potential for the characters. As far as us putting people in books on purpose? I dont think the majority of writers do that and I don’t put people in my books on purpose. Mainly for the fact that I am afraid I will get the person wrong, lol
I used to switch one letter in a name to make it familiar but not searchable. But everyone names their kids something ‘unique’, so it doesn’t work!
oooh, that sounds like a good idea.
I have honored a few friends in my books by basing characters on them, but generally, I find that an unsatisfying experience. My characters do what they want anyway. I just write down the stories they tell me. Based characters are rigid and they will only do what my friend might have done, so I don’t base major characters on living people very often. Dick Vance in Transformation Project and Vic in What If Wasn’t are both based on living people and they had very short runs because I couldn’t get them to do anything beyond basic functions.
thats cool and I am sure that if a friend asked me to put them in a book I would probably do it. My worry with attempting to base a character off a real person would be trying to get the profile down.
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