How Much of Yourself is Revealed in Your Books?

Certainly, I am not any of the characters in my books, nor are they based on me.

As far as Deputy Tempe Crabtree is concerned, we have but one resemblance to one another. Certainly it is not in ethnicity--I have no Indian blood whatsoever. My ancestors came to the states in the mid to late 1700s from places like England, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. Or at least that's what I've been told, and in some instances searching genealogy has proven.

I don't look anything like Tempe either, I'm short, she's tall, I'm chubby and she's not, and she's nearing middle-age and I passed that up long ago.

I've never been in law enforcement either. The closest I've come is to have many relatives, past and present, who have served as police officers or deputy sheriffs.

What Tempe and I, and some of my other female characters, do have in common is a strong streak of independence, bravery and willingness to stand-up for those who are falsely accused.

Though I am writing fiction, ever so often something that has happened in my life or the life of someone I've known, will creep into what I'm writing. Of course it won't be a retelling of the actual incident, but rather the essence of what happened.

I always draw on my own feelings and emotions when I'm writing, asking myself, "If that were happening to me, how would I feel, how would I react?"

What about you? How much of yourself makes its way into what you write?



Frank said…
My personal emotions and ideals are the stem cells of my characters being. They then take over and develop a life of their own. I listen to the voices in my head and complete the journey with them.

Frank A. Ruffolo
Frank said…
Good Morning to you all
Thanks for you comments, Frank. My characters took on a life of their own a long time ago.
Sheila Boneham said…
Great topic, Marilyn. I think of my Animals in Focus protagonist, Janet MacPhail, as a good friend, because we share many interests and, no doubt, traits -- like Janet, I've competed with my dogs in a variety of sports, and I've had many lovely cats in my life. I'm a writer, Janet's a photographer. We're "of an age." But she's not me, and I'm not her and we don't share the same worries and concerns. I will say, though, that she is more like me than any other character I've ever written! Frank - I love the "stem cell" idea!
Patricia Gligor said…
It's interesting that you should ask this question today because, just last night, I was thinking about the fact that several of the characters in my Malone mystery series have some of the same physical/personality characteristics that I do. Just bits and pieces but there's no doubt that they're there. :)
Anonymous said…
Love the post, Marilyn. Since I write both standalones and at least three different series, this is a great topic to explore for me, too. But none of them look like me. They are likely to have thick curly hair and mine is totally straight and baby fine.
JL Walters said…
Great post. I do have a lot in common with my heroine Katherine Miller. She is a retired nurse, so am I. She was a church organist. This I am not though I did compose some music that was used in church services. She also will do anything for those near and dear to her. This is a trait we chare but I don't go to the degree she does. In some ways she looks a bit like I used to look but she hasn't let the weight of the years get to her. As to my other characters most of what we have in common is curiosity. Though the ones who sword-fight are drawn from my fencing days.
Thanks for your thoughts, Sheila, isn't it amazing how different everyone's comments are?
Patricia and C. K., none of my characters are physically like me at all. But they do have some of personality traits.

JL, thanks for your comments--fun to see you here. It's been awhile since we've seen one another.
I agree with you regarding my own protagonists and sleuths. I've never owned a company like Lydia Krause, but there's a bit of me in all my characters. The number of felines that appear in my books reflects my love of cats.
Phoenixgirl said…
I think a lot of myself is revealed in my characters. Yes they have their own lives and have taken on their own lives and tell me what to write. But for me, personally, I get to express a lot through them.
Al-Anon A Day said…
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Al-Anon A Day said…
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Fiona McGier said…
Family is very important to me, so it is to most of my characters. Independence of career choice and lifestyle is also, so it is to my characters. And since I write erotic romance, none of my characters will be inexperienced because I don't remember the "before" part of my life as being particularly enjoyable, compared with the "after".

But they can be male or female, tall or short, any race/religion, etc. The characters are determined by the stories I'm telling. But the essence of the characters is from me. To me, that's what represents the author's "voice".
I'm realizing that my reoccurring characters each spotlight a facet (good and not so good) of my personality.
Unknown said…
When I wrote my series I assured my friends that I didn't use anyone I knew as characters, that it all came strictly out of my head. "Sure," they agreed, 'but how did it get in there in the first place?' Yes, I agree we reveal a great deal about ourselves in our written work. 'Gloria' and I share an occupation. But rather than 'she is me', I prefer to think of her as my daughter, sharing interests and abilities but with her father's Italian work ethic :-).
ebookauthor said…
I find my husband is in my books more than I am. A piece of him is in every hero and every villan. Most of my heroines are strong women, with minds of their own (like me) but they still react according to thir time in history.
Lorna Collins - said…
I share the same independent strong-willed nature with my female characters as well. (We've already determined we're a LOT alike--maybe our mutual birthday...) Whatever they do, I always love your characters. They are three-dimensional and believable.
Anonymous said…
My character, Meredith Ryan, has several of my traits but she takes them and makes them her own. We're both independent and self-sufficient to a fault. But she takes them in a different direction than me. It's kind of like giving birth, isn't it?
marja said…
The first piece of advice I received when I started writing was, "Write about what you know about." I've used the in character descriptions. I'm kind of short (5'2"), so many of my characters are kind of short. I'm patriotic and my characters are, too, when the need arises. And Sandi's menopausal mother, well, we won't go there.

There are parts of me in some of the characters, but I can say they aren't me.

Interesting subject, Marilyn! Thanks.
Marja McGraw
Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts about your characters and how much of yourself is in them. I enjoyed each of your comments.
C.L. Swinney said…
Pieces of me are shared over several of the characters in my books. If you know me, you know which ones :-)
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