Monday musings by BestSelling Reads authors
We asked your favorite bestselling writers how much of their life makes its way into their writing?
The answers are as varied and as entertaining as their books.
The main areas of my life that show up in many of my books are the Southwest as a setting and the local mythology used in a variety of ways.
Using some of my personal interests and hobbies as character details adds depth.
I love baking, which lent itself to my Eliza Carlisle series, and many of my characters enjoy art or dancing, and reading.
How much of my life shows up in my writing? Quite a bit, and in three specific ways.
The first is from story ideas. Each of my books is the product of a very real experience in my life or the lives of friends or family. The stories end up looking nothing like the experiences they come from, but each is triggered by a real event.
The second way is in setting. The Cass Elliot novels are set in East Texas, where I currently live. Forney County is imaginary, but the pastureland, forest, and architecture in this area flavor each novel. Cass’s home town, Arcadia, is an amalgamation of two local towns.
The third way my life shows up in my writing is through characters. Although Cass Elliot and Maxine Leverman are their own “people,” each contains elements of my personality. Cass has more of my serious side and Maxine ended up with the smartass part of me that refuses to spend time thinking through consequences.
Other characters come directly from my life. For example, the Grove twins are based on my brothers when they were teenagers; the thee ladies of the Lost and Found Detective Agency are women I work with; and Sheriff Hoffner is based on the worst boss I’ve ever had. One character, Hugo Petchard, is a composite of the many annoying, inept people we’ve all had to work with, and he’s great fun to write!
My life is all about my books these days. From the moment I wake I’m on my laptop, and often spend 12 hours at it. I take regular breaks and exercise for an hour each morning, and I cook most nights, but the rest of the time is spent staring at the screen.
I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish I could actually write something—anything—instead of just gazing at the last paragraph for hours on end.
I think my next project will be about an author who has writer’s block, so if I don’t make progress I can just tell myself it’s part of the story!
I like to insert people I know into my stories and novels, and what I’ve found is that my victims, I mean subjects, are delighted with the idea.
For my first published novel, The Bones of the Earth, I based the hero, Javor, on both my sons. He looks like my older son, and has the personality of the younger. Meanwhile, the wise old man of the story, who turns out not to be so wise, after all, is based on an old university professor of mine, many years ago.
Vanessa Storm, hero of the Hawaiian Storm mystery series, is based on my lovely wife, Roxanne. The villains of the first book in the series, Torn Roots, are based on a certain neighbor and an ex-girlfriend, respectively.
Of course, the biographical Eastern Front Trilogy tells the story of my father-in-law, a Canadian drafted into the Red Army during the Second World War.
I have sprinkled names that readers of this blog may recognize into other books: Corinne O’Flynn, Christine Nolfi and Sam Gilmour, to name three. It’s a lot of fun!