Basing Characters on People and Real Life

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Question: Do you base characters and situations on real people and real life? 

So far, no, I have not based any of my characters on real people and real life. I think even if I were to try to do so, eventually characters start to breathe on their own. That’s a pretty exciting part of the writing process. I feel like I’d be doing something wrong if I tried to reel a character back into whatever box I wanted them in. “Hey stop it, you’re based on my great aunt Matilda, and she would never do that!” If I let characters breathe on their own, it ends up better anyway. In the early versions of Blood Rain, for example, Dougherty was a homophobic jerk. As I got deeper into writing him and probed the layers of why he did police work, that started to change. Now he gets some of the coolest lines, and is an admirable bad ass. He’s a nice foil for Suzanne, who is often awkward and uncertain.

One thing to be really clear on– I never write “me”. People make the assumption that writers who work in first person POV have cast themselves in the starring role. It seems like that assumption gets made with some frequency regarding women writers especially. I’m not Suzanne. My issues and concerns are not hers. My early childhood wounds and adult-life vulnerabilities are not hers, either.

Situations in my writing take even less from real life, primarily because I write UF. Since we don’t actually live in a world where magic is real, vampires exist, people can communicate with the spirits of the dead, and so on, I end up having to make stuff up. I don’t mind, it is my job as a writer to make stuff up.

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