It’s not always about me…
Back in February I mentioned,
The ubiquitous “they” always say “write what you know” – and all I truly know is me. And so when I write, there is a lot of me in what I write. Characters, situations, settings. They are me, they are my life, they are the things I know.
I am conscious that I put a lot of myself into a few characters. The most obvious “me” characters are Gideon in The Long Watch and Ewan in Salvage the Good. By design, and as I write them, they think like I do. They react to situations as I would react to them. They are me, but they are an alternative “me”.
It is interesting to see people’s reactions to such characters, especially people who know you. When you know that a character is “you”, then there is no pretence, there are no hidden clues as to your psychology. It is all transparent, so the amateur psychoanalysis can be quite amusing.
But what about characters that you don’t intend as you? What happens when others project “you” on to those characters?
The character of Captain Juan is not me. I came up with the character, and he was a vehicle for a ridiculous and outrageous tall tale. As such, he was a very one-dimensional character when created. In the past few months however, the character has taken off, become more serious, and been fleshed out (and in a recent episode, he has really fleshed out…). But he isn’t me, and I have never intended him to be me.
But that doesn’t stop people I know interpreting him as me – my wife cannot read the story without imagining me in the title role, which leads to raised eyebrows when he winds up naked in a crow’s nest confronted by a young lady! Particularly when those chapters aren’t written by me…
Do your readers ever project you on to the characters that you have created? Do they get it right, or do they get it wrong? How do you react, in either case?