It’s Not You

You’d be surprised how often I get asked “So, which character is based on me in your writing?”  I often want to reply, “Why would I write about you?”  My characters may have a mix of characteristics from those people I know (or even see at the coffee shop), but they aren’t based solely on one person.  If you read the front pages of a novel there is always a disclaimer about the characters being made up people.

I’m not saying my friends and family aren’t cool people.  I’m not even saying they wouldn’t make good characters in a novel.  They would make people keep reading.  (Yep, Leslie, I’m talking about a novel based on our lives.  It’d sell millions, and no one would believe it wasn’t fictional.)  The thing is – and I mean this with all sincerity – while yes, you are intriguing, I don’t want to get sued.  This is fiction.  This is not a non-fiction tell all about my life.  While it is easier to sell non-fiction, I’ll leave the books about me to someone else.

Where do my characters come from?  Well, the main characters have been hashed out in my brain for over a year now.  I admit that they shock me every now and then.  I’m pretty sure the characters are from an alternate universe.  I was busily writing another story when Alexandria, Peter and Hans just sort of showed up.  Seriously, there I was writing about a settler in Texas while it was still part of Mexico.  Next thing I know, Alexandria and Peter were on the screen.  Shocking, huh?  (String theory and interconnecting universes probably should be studied more.)

Alexandria, Peter and Hans haven’t changed since I first met them.  The others were just names at that time.  They needed personalities, except Karl who seemed to come with his.  In no time, I had met the entire Zeidrich Family.  The secondary characters seemed to need the most help from me in developing their personalities.  It didn’t take me long to do, though.  I took bits and pieces from people I’d seen in the mall, on documentaries, know in life, and everywhere to come up with the personalities.

Yet, every now and then, one of the Zeidrichs will shock me with how they act in the story.  I’ll be buzzing along in the story and go “Um, Peter,why’d you just do that?”  I also am pretty sure the Zeidrich Family is alive, if only just in my mind.  I’ve spent enough time with all of them that I think I actually love them as family.  Weird, huh?

On a personal note, I’d like to take a moment to say something to my Aunt Nina.  I realize this will most likely get me disowned by one of my two favorite aunts, but I figure I’ll do it anyways.  “Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday, dear Aunt Nina!  Happy Birthday to you!”  Have a wonderful birthday, Aunt Nina!  I love you!

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