I've written a new little book, another one about a cat. This one is about a British cat called Baby. Baby is brash, extroverted and completely convinced that absolutely everybody loves him - even when evidence points to the contrary. He had an experience recently that changed his entire life and gave me the inspiration to write about him. As usual the book is free for a limited time, only two days left because really I should have written this post yesterday but migraine...
Anyway, here's the link: The Cat on the Wrong Side of the Door
Go check it out and send all your friends to look at it too. Let's see if we can get this book into the top 100 free kindle ebooks before the promotion ends :)
Writing: it's a solitary occupation that requires deep introspection and a willingness to share a part of yourself with your audience. No matter how absurd the setting may be (if it's a fantasy populated with unicorns that poop rainbows for instance) the story in a book should feel real. The reader should be able to identify with or relate to the characters and to have an emotional response to them. The author almost inevitably puts a part of him or herself into each and every character, or a part of you.
Authors tend to be introverts of course, but at the same time watch the people around them and study their behaviour and mannerisms. Authors are trying to figure out what makes people tick, not only the people who stand out from the crowd but also ordinary people. They study people like entomologists study insects. They mentally dissect an individual's actions and reactions, and try to assign a motive for the things they see happening.
I have had people ask if they will be appearing in one of my books and the answer is yes, probably. It may not be you exactly, but perhaps a way of speaking, or a mannerism, or a behavioural quirk that I find interesting. Everybody is material - friends, family, acquaintances and people I see on television or read about in the media.
I am not a social person, I can be anti-social on a scale that has my more extroverted friends and family members scratching their heads. I hate crowds and have panic attacks if I am in a large gathering. I far prefer the company of my cats to people which can make others think I am lonely. I am not lonely, I just don't need as many people in my life that others do. I am not unique, there are many like me but of course we don't form groups or some such thing!
However, I find people fascinating and if I do go to a function I am completely happy sitting in a corner watching. I'm gathering material, observing and collating in my head. An author shamelessly listens in - on conversations at the next table, one sided phone conversations, arguments with a person in authority, everything that people do in their day to day lives. It's not snooping, it's gathering material.
But it is the author, it is me, that goes into the characters the most. The protagonist, the antagonist, the bit player - they all have something of me that makes up who they are. Characters in a book are not real people, but amalgamations. They are part author, part friend, part someone the author read about and part fits the personality profile character from who knows where. To be believable the character must behave in a way consistent with the way real people behave. That is why authors use real people, or parts of them. That is why I use me, and I use you.
So if you think you recognise yourself in one of my books you are right, or at least partly right :)
You see? Writers are ever so slightly crazy :)