In Case You Were Wondering

The Blurry Line between Author and Character

I fell upon a blog post today about developing characters for your story. It reminded me that people often ask me about the characters in my novel. Most recently, I was asked how blurred the line was between my own personality and that of the main protagonist in my novel, Del Booker. I thought I’d share my answer with you:

On the surface, Del and I share a lot of common ground. But he could have just as easily been a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. The fact that Del is trying his hand at theatre is by and large out of laziness on my part. Same with his physical description. But I think the real story has little to do with what Del actually does, or what he looks like.

At this point, I’m just another reader like anyone else, and I don’t see any more convergence between Del and myself than I do between Sir Laurence Olivier and that girl who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer – sure, they’re both actors, but that’s about where the comparison ends.

When I get down to it, I tend to think that of all The Call for Something‘s major characters, Del Booker is the least like me. Conversely, I’ll come right out and admit that all the other major characters are just different versions of StephenThomas, the person; and gender, job, age, or what you will, are just details: they might change, but they’ll never change a thing.

Categories: In Case You Were Wondering, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Accident of a Cohesive Novel: How The Call for Something Came About.

Since I joined Facebook and announced to people that I have written and published a novel, I have been hearing from a lot of people I haven’t seen in years! I am thrilled and also a little freaked out by all the direct messages on my Facebook page, but I want to honor some of the questions that I received. They are a great excuse to post things to my blog, so I’m going to break them up into blog posts. The first one I will summarize as:

How did “The Call for Something” Come About? Here goes…

In general, The Call for Something came about as a result of a habit of writing – even a compulsion to do so. Circumstantially, at the time that I began writing, I found myself with a hell of a lot of time on my hands. And specifically, if the truth be told, I was pretty drunk in the moments immediately preceding the first words of the book. This last detail is arguably incidental; but if you’re curious as to the particular circumstances under which the story was conceived, I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I left this admission out.

The Call for Something was a long time in coming – I’d written so many poems, essays, short stories and ramblings by that time, that the accident of a cohesive novel probably had to happen sooner or later. Much like the mathematical theorem which asserts that a monkey randomly hitting keys on a typewriter will eventually combine to produce King Lear. I’m pretty sure that if you were to sleuth through all the literary verbiage I’d piled up prior to my tapping out this novel, you’d be able to find all the seeds of this story in that massive, gargantuan heap. But that wouldn’t be necessary. It occured to me, in those seminal moments just before the book’s beginning, that within everything I’d written so far, there seemed to be a unifying theme that had been tying all my ramblings together. Suddenly everything presented itself in a cohesive whole; I can actually recall a physical feeling when the idea seemed to fall into my lap.

There are three events in The Call for Something that did actually happen to me. Two of those I fictionalized as I went along; the third is almost entirely true to life, and yet so implausible it would have been considered bad fiction if I’d recounted it precisely as it happened, ironically.

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