Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Am Not My Characters

I just wrote a scene in which one of my characters does something that he absolutely believes is right, and in the context of the story, he is right.  But I, Donis Ann Casey, would NEVER consider justified.  One of the joys and perhaps one of the great challenges of writing is that you can explore lives, places, times, people, attitudes that are entirely different from your own. The series I’m writing now features a protagonist who leads a life that couldn’t be less like mine, nor does she believe the things I do.  And yet I know her intimately.  I grew up around her world and loved a lot of people who were just like her.

I wonder sometimes if readers think I have the same values and ideas as my character Alafair.  I always wondered how like their characters other authors are until I actually started writing fiction.  Now I think the answer often is, “not even close.”  I read an interview with Salmon Rushdie in which he said he didn’t have to be religious himself in order to understand quite well how a religious person thinks, and not only to understand him, but have great admiration for him.

We’re told to write what we know, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write what you are.  (aside : Speaking of books on writing, I once read in one that you don’t really have to write what you know, you have to write what you find out.  I don’t remember whose book it was, sadly - I’m thinking Janet Evanovich. This puts me in mind of Vicki’s recent Facebook post in which she said that a policeman was coming over to her house to teach her to throw a punch.  Now, that’s research!)


Ann Elle Altman said...

I am currently writing a book where the main character is so unlike me in many ways. I find it somewhat frustrating when people who read my work believe the characters I write to be me. I should write more men as MCs.


Donis Casey said...

I'm occasionally complimented on my Christian ethic, which my character has in spades. Me, not so much.

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