Be warned: your characters will start making their own relationships with your friends and family.
When I published my book: The Seed of the Violet Tree: A Science Fiction Mystery, I expected, of course, that readers would bring their own perspectives to it. They would utilise their personal histories, experiences and insights to reach unique interpretations of what I’d written. I was rather looking forward to that side of things, having in-depth discussions and all of that. But, whilst it is has been great fun to finally be able to discuss my book with others, I hadn’t bargained for the utter cheek and front of my characters.
It seems they’ve been going off on their own having secret relationships with everyone I know behind my back!
“Oh,” said my old work colleague Marie, “there’s a lot more to Amber to be told yet, she has some dark secrets about her life that she’s yet to reveal.” Well…if she has then she’s never told me about them.
“I really like Amber,” said my neighbour Alison. Which was nice to hear, but when she said it for about the twelfth time with a knowing look in her eye, I got the impression that she and Amber had been involved in some deep and meaningful conversations that had evidently excluded me.
“That Debra’s cruel, ooooh a real nasty piece of work, some of the things she’s got up to,” said my friend Anne, so convincingly that I began to believe she knew more about certain aspects of Debra’s nastiness than I did.
“I like Barry,” said my friend Iain. “He’s well-grounded and brings balance to some difficult conundrums.” Which I suppose he does, but Barry’s obviously had much deeper conversations with Iain about all these conundrums than he’s ever had with me.
“Merlin is pure logic,” exclaimed Mattie, in the same tone of voice she uses to say, “That old dog of mine is one word: stupid.” It was the way she said it, as though she knew Merlin as well as she knew her ten year old spaniel Ronny. And Merlin is a made up Artificial Intelligence for heaven’s sake!
And so it went on. I won’t bore you with more examples but it’s an absolute outrage. When these revelations were made to me I literally stood there with my mouth open. My characters had evidently popped round to see my mum for a cup of tea, shared a beer and a joke in the pub with my mates, sat on my neighbour’s couch gossiping, taken my friend’s dog out for a walk. In short, they’d been romping around the neighbourhood getting to know my friends and family and revealing aspects of themselves they’d never deemed to share with me. During the writing phase of my book I’d had an experience in common with many other writers, in that my characters at times took on a life of their own, often pushing my story in directions I’d never intended. I’d had to be very strict and hold them back but I honestly thought that business was all over. The story had been told, my characters were finally under control and locked safely in the published pages of a printed book. Hmmm. Apparently not. [Folds arms]
Prospective writers. You’ve been warned.
I’d love to hear about your own experiences. of writing and your relationships with your characters in the comments section below. If you’re interested in hearing more about my own writing journey, take a closer look my blog.