Frequently Asked Question: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
Today’s question comes from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group newsletter, and it’s a good one.
Authors are always admonished to write what we know. This means research, one way or the other … because it’s about your experiences. You either already know about something or you need to go learn it.
The answer to this question, in my case, is that I’ve included some of my personal experiences, but not necessarily my personal information. Does that make sense?
I was still an active equestrian athlete when I wrote In The Eye of The Beholder … which features a woman whose job at the Opèra Garnier was to ride horses in some of the mid-show spectaculars that composers put in their productions. They were desperate to get opera-goers to look at the stage and not one another; in the late 19th Century, people went to the opera to see and be seen, not so much for the performance. My experience in dressage allowed me to write intelligently about what those performances might look like, what kind of equipment was used, etc.
Another great example is Bayou Fire. I love to travel, so I was able to incorporate notes about some of the places I’d been into Diana Corbett’s work as a travel writer. My love affair with New Orleans stands out loud and proud, too. One of the decisions I made early on, given my determination to put atypical characters front and center in my work, was to give Diana the same autoimmune disease with which I’ve made no secret that I live: Hashimoto’s disease, which creates antibodies that destroy the thyroid. It gave me an opportunity to put a real-world problem into my character’s life, which would affect many aspects of her work and behavior. Thyroid disease affects approximately 60 percent of the population, so it wouldn’t be surprising to have a given character live with it from a statistical perspective alone.