Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Shari Shattuck | Men in Fiction

October 16, 2007

When I was asked to do this chat I politely requested some subject ideas. The ladies at Fresh Fiction very kindly hinted that most writers talk about where they got their latest book/plot idea.

Well, my plot ideas usually start with something vague, and then I pull from the myriad of images and happenings that we call life. My latest, “Eye of the Beholder” was inspired by my new neighborhood, the one I’m working on now, as yet untitled, sprung from the loins of a conversation with an old modeling friend in Atlanta, where I grew up. But I do have a subject that I’ve had to sneak up on, set traps for, and hope I capture my elusive prey. Fictional men.

Where do we get our male characters and how true are they? For that matter, how true do we want them to be? In one of his fabulously witty books, the British humorist P. G. Wodehouse has one of his characters married to well-known Romance writer Rosie Banks. Rosie’s been asked to write a column for a ladies’ paper about her husband and he exclaims in great distress, “Believe me, or believe me not, Bertie, when I say that she describes me as half-God, half prattling mischievous child!” To which Bertie replies, “Good God! She didn’t say that!”

Not a bad description of many of our men in real life, no doubt, but most of us prefer our literary men on the minor deity end of the spectrum. However loving and forgiving creatures that most woman are, I admit to occasionally keeping score on my man’s transgressions, and so in “Eye” one of my characters describes her husband as being mentally about seven when they have a disagreement. “You know, he reverts to that ‘I’m not stupid, you’re stupid!’ stage.”

I’ve stolen much of my own man’s personality for Evan Paley in the Callaway Wilde series. Joseph is my constant consultant on “maleness.” Since he’s one of those ‘real men’ in real life and an accomplished stage actor who’s filled out the emotional life of male characters ranging from Richard the Third to Lenny in ‘Grapes of Wrath’ to Macbeth, that Scottish king with the harpy wife, (who was played by me, giggle) he’s got some pretty good insights.

So, let me know what you think about the subject. Then let’s talk men in fiction!

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