Looking in the mirror isn’t that scary…
In a recent article from Patricia Cornwell, she lets us hear about a brief snipbit concerning her newest novel Dust. I noticed two interesting things about that novel. One, was the recent and very real account of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. She placed her character, Kay Scarpetta, before such a homicide. Now, I know this is not an unusual thing for authors to do – to draw upon real life experiences to help their fiction. Perhaps I, like many people in the world, was emotionally touched by the events that December day and so near Christmas, one year after the tragedy those feelings resurfaced. From an author’s standpoint, Cornwell made a bold and personal move, showing both her support of the families and providing a way to commemorate them in fiction. After all, isn’t that one of the things that we as writers are trying to do? To make some kind of lasting memory on paper whether it be for ourselves, a family member, or even an event that touched us in ways we can’t fully understand?
That leads me to the other point in the article I found interesting. As authors, we write what we know. I have heard many debates about whether or not basing characters (at least somewhat) on the author is a good or bad way to write. I’ve heard arguments for both sides and am not about to play mediator, but how can an author truly get to know a character without having some sort of connection? And for that matter, how can a reader truly care for a character without having a similar connection? Cornwell is only one of many authors who has proven that writing what you know is worth the risk. So, don’t be afraid if your main character seems to stare back at you in the mirror. When in doubt, pour two drinks, sit down and see what your character wants to do next.
You might be surprised with what s/he says.
Merry Christmas, everyone!