This week, the blog hop prompts participating authors to write about "putting yourself in the story." I'm not sure how to interpret that.
Every fiction author puts himself or herself into the story in some way, shape, or form. I wouldn't say that I have an avatar or doppleganger who appears in any of my stories, but some of my own character traits do appear in the characters. For instance, Rowan Nemed in Rowan got my sardonic sense of humor and Cecily in Russian Gold received my rather rigid code of right and wrong which contributes to her crisis of conscience. Charlotte in The Mighty Finn and Miranda in Bear of the Midnight Sun manifest my literary ambition, and Corinne in Daughter of the Dark Moon represents my optimism. Aridis in The Falcon of Imenotash showcases my brand of feminism (described in a review as "the fiery feminist fiction of the 1970's"), which doesn't devolve into man-bashing or man-hating, but insists upon women's worth as equally intelligent, capable, and as valuable as men. Different does not mean inferior.
Injecting myself in bits and pieces brings authenticity to the story, because the characters become real and their reactions and thoughts genuine in a sort of "What would I do in this situation?" type of hypothetical scenario. Oftentimes, the characters rise about what I'm sure I would do or think, because they're better than I in many aspects beyond physical appearance. They're tougher, smarter, better skilled, more resourceful, etc. Sometimes they have a common disability like myopia. (Anyone who doesn't think that severe nearsightedness isn't a disability is fooling himself.) Some have pets for no other reason than I have pets and cannot conceive of living without furry critters to love. Charlotte has a dog (Finn), Tessa has a rabbit (Chester), Rachel has cat (Sunday). Except for Finn, the animals aren't central to their lives--as they have often been to mine--but they are distinct personalities within those books. Like my characters, the animals are somewhat idealized.
By the way, rabbits really do spit and they are truly territorial and opinionated.
The western short stories in Six Shots Each Gun also have animals, but they're peripheral to the stories.
Injecting parts of my own traits into the characters runs the risk of making them too similar, so I add bits and pieces of my experience to them, too. Ursula in Triple Burn benefits from classes I took in pottery; Zoe in got the remnants of a long-ago fencing class.
Regardless of what bits and pieces of my personality and experience go into creating these characters, they all become distinct--at least in my own mind. More difficult, I think, is to make my heroes into distinct personalities, rather than nearly identical versions of the same ideal. Atlas Leonidus in The Barbary Lion is a domineering jerk who eventually redeems himself; Lars in Ulfbehrt's Legacy has the strength to let Zoe go after her ambition; and, Uberon in Daughter of the Dark Moon exhibits sly humor and implacable resolve. Like my heroines, my heroes also become distinct personalities inhabiting my mind.
Anyone reading my books can discern snippets of who I am, but never the whole of who I am. I am more complex than a character in a book.
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