So, speaking of author faux pas ... that is what we are really discussing when we are talking about anecdotes, right? Anyway, you may or may not know that most of my books to date have been about a monkey called Chee Chee. In my books, I portrait him as smart, funny, resourceful, intelligent, and magical. I suggest that the reason that he and his brothers raid trees for fruit is that they are hungry and need to eat.
From those readers who don't live around monkeys and so can fall for the rose-coloured lens I create, I get a collective 'Awwww, how sweet'. Unfortunately the books are set in St. Kitts where many residents don't have the luxury of seeing monkeys that way. In their reality, monkeys are willfully annoying pests who use their intelligence to thwart every effort people make to protect the fruit in their gardens.
So the conversation goes:
Me "What a lovely garden!"
Hostess (bitterly): "Thanks. A pity I never get to enjoy the fruit. Those monkeys eat it all and what they cannot eat they pick and throw to the ground."
Me: "Oh dear." (Trying to sink into the ground with the fruit.)
Hostess: "Let's not talk about that. What do you do anyway?"
Me (still frantically searching for a hole): I write books.
Hostess: "How wonderful! What do you write about?"
You can see the problem, right? If I had thought it through, planned strategically instead of letting the characters take control of the story, perhaps Chee Chee would have been a soothsayer cat, or a wiley mouse, or a talking bird. Anything but the mischievous, destructive but oh so lovable (I'm told) monkey.