My daughter was reading my upcoming release, MORE THAN FRIENDS when she laughed out loud and said, “Mom, dad brings you food all the time when you’re writing, just like Owen does for Gabby.” Then she asked if I meant to do that and I thought…yeah, I probably did.
Sometimes, though, I don’t mean to. I don’t think anyone can write, not from an emotional perspective, without giving up pieces of themselves. If I had to look closely at all of my characters and the worlds in which they live, I’m certain there are elements of my own life.
The outside reader might not pick up on these “pieces”, but people close to me certainly do. Another example was when my daughter read my last release, FALLING FOR KATE. In the story, Kate never lets a song finish. This is something I do. It drives my daughter nuts. But to me, the song is over once you get to the last few bars. And I want to see what else we can listen to.
I didn’t intentionally think, what little habit of mine could I insert into this moment? My characters were in the car and she was restless. The result was her fidgeting with the dial. Repeatedly.
I know that I don’t model my characters after specific people. I don’t get an image in my head of a friend, say, and then describe my character in that exact way. But habits, tells, and little idiosyncrasies? Yes, I pick up on those, even without meaning to. Any people watcher does. When it’s a conscious inclusion, I’m careful not to make it glaringly obvious. But using these real life moments, I think, makes the book and the characters more real.
Maybe all authors do this to some extent. How do you write without life bleeding into your fictional worlds? I certainly can’t read that way. If I’m in a book, I’m all the way in. I feel what the character feels, want what they want, and can’t wait to resolve the conflict. This is maybe why we feel like the characters are our friends. Why it hurts so bad when someone’s heart breaks.
While not everything I write imitates my life, it does aim to mimic real life. Relationships and interactions on the page have to be genuine. They have to matter so that the reader cares about what happens. Whether it is art imitating life or the other way around, I think it is important that there isn’t a hard line drawn in that sand. We need a bit of the real and the unreal to balance us and make us feel connected.
Have you ever read something in a book and wondered how the author knew so much about something? Then wondered…was it just research? Is this a passion of theirs? Have you ever read a book and then wanted to explore something you stumbled upon in that book? I like learning those little things about authors.
Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.
Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his “fake” girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she’s not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.
Romance Contemporary [Entangled, On Sale: December 5, 2016, Paperback, ISBN: 9781682813539 / ]
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About Jody Holford
I’m a mom and wife first and many things after. I’m a best friend and a regular friend. A daughter, sister, auntie, a teacher, and maybe even… a writer. I am a book lover, a shopper, a pajama-wearer, movie-watcher, worrier, over-thinker, and a wanna-be-good-Samaritan. I’m a Gemini, a nervous talker, and an emotional writer. I am represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel.