Monday, October 21, 2013

Writer power

I'll just go ahead and confess: I put people I know in my stories. Some of those people are based on me or a fantasy version of me, such as the main character in Magic Island. Others are people I know who have no idea that I do this stuff.
  • The ex-gigolo in Cafe au Lait? Based on a friend of my brother's.
  • The psycho cousin in Give me the Night? Based on one of my real-life cousins.
  • The leering, drooling African doctor in the aforementioned? Based on two Nigerian acquaintances. (Yes, I often combine several real people into one fictional character.)
  • Most of the characters in what I'll facetiously refer to as The Great West Indian Novel--one of my works in progress--are modeled on relatives close and distant, dead and alive. While the situations are pure fiction, the settings and characters are rendered from the living cloth of my memories.
  • A character in Sultry in Blue, my third romance novel, is based on Naughty Niece. This is proving problematic as Nefarious Nephew now wants me to write a story about him. (Lesson: Do NOT tell people when you base characters on them.)
This habit of co-opting people to populate my stories gives me an unfair amount of power. Mess with me and you're likely to end up as a despicable villain who gets his or her just desserts in one of my fictional universes.

Unfortunately, I cannot claim to use my powers wisely. I threaten people. For instance, I tell my mother that if she isn't careful she'll end up in one of my books as a dotty old harridan who potters around the yard in a nightie, wide-brimmed straw hat, bright green Crocs and wild hair. This has not scared her into dressing appropriately before wafting out the door, so I'll have to up the ante to something even more embarrassing: a dotty old harridan who potters around the yard in a nightie, wide-brimmed straw hat, bright green Crocs and wild hair--and who disembowels kittens! That'll teach her...

If I can use my writer powers to blackmail my own mother, what might I do to you? Tread carefully or I'll wave my magic quill and you'll find yourself trapped between the pages of my next book doing some really, really embarrassing (if not downright illegal) things.


William Doonan said...

Too funny - not ten minutes ago I finished reading the scene with the ex-gigolo in Cafe au Lait! Seriously.

But I hear you, Liane - we writers are a powerful bunch. I told a friend of mine that if she made me mad, she'd come back to life in one of my books as an ex-whore with a heart of gold. But she just laughed.

Liane Spicer said...

Yikes, William! I think I'm blushing here. All I'll say in my defense is that I wrote CaL 16 years ago and I should have grown up a bit since then. Not a certainty, though... :)

Jewel Amethyst said...

It's a heady experience isn't it? You're god of your characters. The strange thing about people is that they're flattered by characters based on them, even if the characters are unflattering.

Liane Spicer said...

Strange indeed, Jewel. I don't think my mother would be amused, though... She's probably the exception.

Joanne said...

Usually this stealing from life (which every writer does) happens, for me anyway, in a very organic non-deliberate way. But I'll cop to quite recently making a lady who was very, very, very unpleasant to me (unfairly in my view) the equivalent of the evil stepmother in my recent (first ever) fairy tale. It had to happen; it was that or hang on to it...and maybe do something truly evil. This way I've let it go. Besides she may have inspired it but it's not really recognizable as really no real people were harmed in the writing of the fairytale.

Liane Spicer said...

Joanne, it can be a form of catharsis. There are a select few people I'd like to hit over the head with something. Writing them out of my system is the way I do it.