Please welcome the talented, Katherine Grey, to the blog as she discusses a very tricky, but oh-so-common, writer dilemma. Also, check out her fabulous book, Impetuous. You can find the blurb, excerpt, and buylinks after the post.
Hey, is that me?
I was recently asked if I ever use real people as characters in my books. My knee-jerk answer was, “No. Never.” Then I started thinking about it. Do I use real people as models for some of the characters I’ve written? No, I assured myself. I don’t do that. I will admit I’ve taken a trait here, a quirk there, or a bad habit and wove them into a character. But to model a character completely after someone I knew, never.
Then I started looking over previous manuscripts I’d written. Oh my. There on page 6 of my debut novel, Impetuous, was “Person P” in all her glory. As I flipped through the pages looking for more scenes with the Duchess of Perth, I realized I had indeed written about someone I knew. Not just someone I knew, but someone I was related to. She is so like the character who insists on controlling her daughter and everyone around her, so disapproving, so…so mean spirited that to this day she doesn’t know I’ve been published because I don’t want to be a target for her maliciousness.
My heart pounding in my chest, I called a friend who writes mysteries. “Oh my goodness, what do I do if she ever reads the book?” I asked. “What if she thinks it’s her? How am I going to explain that?”
My friend talked me down by saying three very smart things:
1.) “What are the odds your relative will read your book?” Ok, the answer to that is slim to none. Mainly because I don’t think she’s much of a reader and she doesn’t associate with my family all that much.
2.) “People seldom recognize themselves as the flawed character. So even if she does read the book she won’t see herself in the duchess.”
3.) “If she does question you about it. Lie. How will she know?”
Finally, my friend told me not to worry about it and that she has killed her ex-husband many times over in a number of the books she’s written. He doesn’t know and she enjoys killing him without having to go to jail.
My panic attack over, I thanked her for her sage advice and hung up the phone just as my nephew stopped by for a visit. Vowing to be more careful about the modeling of my characters in the future, I gestured for my nephew to take a seat while I gathered up my writing notes etc.
He handed me a pad of paper I’d scribbled a few lines of dialog on and said, “Hey, can I be in one of your books?
Given the vow I made moments ago, I started laughing. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Once I got myself under control, I told him I’d decided not to put people I knew in my books in case they didn’t like how they were portrayed. He nodded in agreement like the wise 22 year old he is and said, “That makes sense,” but seemed disappointed.
Maybe some people wouldn’t mind being portrayed as character in a book, but I’d rather not find out. How about you? Have you ever, consciously or subconsciously, modeled a character so completely after a person you knew?
Teresa Darlington will do anything to keep scandal away from her frail mother and prove her father wasn't a thief, even risk her reputation in a race to find the missing heirloom before the Count does. But she didn't count on falling in love with the man determined to ruin her family. Can she find the heirloom before he does and protect her family, or will her heart lead her in a different direction?
Teresa was saved from responding by Lady Sarah’s entrance. Dressed in a blue gown that matched her eyes, she swept into the room, dropped a kiss on her mother’s cheek, and headed for the sideboard.
“Mmm. Everything smells wonderful. I’m absolutely famished this morning.” She filled a cup with the steaming chocolate. “Our trip into the country yesterday must be the cause. Wasn’t the day wonderful?”
“Sarah,” the duchess said in a warning tone.
“What have I told you about your manner of speech?”
Sarah’s sunny disposition disappeared as though a cloud suddenly passed over her. She gave Teresa a quick glance and swallowed. “A lady of my station doesn’t chatter on like some hen-witted commoner.”
Teresa sighed into her cup. She longed to come to her cousin’s defense but knew the duchess would repay her insolence by tormenting Mama. She gave the younger girl a commiserating smile.
Sarah helped herself to eggs, toast, and bacon. She stiffened at the sound of her mother clearing her throat. She set the plate down as if it might shatter at any moment.
“A large appetite is a sign of ill breeding,” she recited. “A lady eats like a bird so she may weigh no more than a butterfly.” With one last look of longing, Sarah placed a slice of toast on a clean dish and took her seat at the table.
At the sight of Sarah’s down-bent head, Teresa itched to point out that Vivian’s own plate overflowed with food. She clenched her teeth until her jaw ached, barely managing to keep a strangle hold on her temper.
The duchess slit open the first invitation of those deemed important enough to be considered.
“How interesting. Lord Pendleton is having a rout in honour of a foreign guest—a Count de Montayas of Spain. We shall have to attend.” She laid the sheet aside and continued on to the next.
“But Mother, you hate the Spanish. You said we should let Napoleon have them,” Sarah said in a barely audible voice.
“So I did. Some things have to be tolerated to get what you want from life. This event could be very advantageous for you.”
“Lord Pendleton is old enough to be my father,” Sarah cried, near tears. “I don’t wish to become betrothed to him.”
Vivian looked up from the paper in her hand. “You will marry whom I choose. Do not worry yourself. It will give you wrinkles and who would want you then?
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=905
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/impetuous-katherine-grey/1105052736?ean=2940013040984&itm=4&usri=impetuous#CustomerReviews
You can contact Katherine at her blog – http://katherinegrey.blogspot.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katherine-Grey/265375626827267?sk=wall