By Chester Campbell
I'm not talking about making yourself a character in your book, but consciously or not we usually include a lot of ourselves in our writing. Back in the days when I made a lot of public appearances (a voice problem limits my talking these days), I would talk about my Greg McKenzie mysteries and someone would invariably ask, "Is Greg really you?"
A lot of my characters have no relationship to me, either in size or demeanor or thought processes. But at least one of the key personalities is bound to express my sentiments about the situation. It just comes flowing out of my fingers naturally. I choose to write about subjects that interest me, which means I have feelings that get expressed in one way or another.
There are other ways we put ourselves in our novels. One is to use experiences we've had some place or another. I've done that countless times. In my first post Cold War political thriller, Beware the Jabberwock, I had my two principal characters, Burke Hill and Lori Quinn, ride the Star Ferry across Hong Kong Harbor. I described it as I remembered from my visit to Hong Kong back in 1987 (the story takes place in 1992).
My first Greg McKenzie mystery was based largely on a tour I took of the Holy Land in 1998. Greg and Jill make a similar journey as the book begins, and several of the characters were based on people I met during the trip. One who played a key role was our tour guide in Israel, an American who had lived in Jerusalem for several years. I used a lot of her characteristics but changed her sex for plot reasons.
I think most writers put a lot of themselves in their books in one way or another. Do you find your thoughts, your preferences, your characteristics, your experiences showing up in your prose?
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