A. I think it’s both right and important. I think it’s impossible to write competently about something that you know absolutely nothing about. There’s always an element of your reality, or a fragment of yourself in anything you write. It doesn’t mean that every single character is an exact copy of yourself, or that you can’t write about something you’ve never experienced.
But I believe that what makes us love books, what keeps us coming back to books – we see ourselves reflected in them. We relate to these characters, we consciously or unconsciously find the commonalities we share with the characters we love. It’s what makes us care about them, root for them, and continue reading.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I am doomed to write nothing about people exactly like me (no matter how well small, round, knitting aficionados who like disco dancing and long walks on the beach might make for an interesting short story). One of the main characters of Right Here Waiting is a WWII bomber pilot who happens to be gay. I am neither of those things.
However, I am a human being, and I write about human beings. There are some grand over-arching commonalities we all face, regardless of age, time period, job, or sexual orientation. Love, separation, deprivation, not belonging, sorrow, loss, joy, hurting – these are things that almost every single person on the planet has experienced, in one way or another.
Pete is fathoms deep in love, and I know what that is like. I can write about that.
Pete misses the love of his life with a bone-deep ache. I know that feeling, too. I can write about that.
Pete’s life as a bomber pilot overseas is that of constant tension and danger – though, thankfully, my experience with it is not as extended as his, I do know about living in states of emergency and what the aftermath of an adrenaline rushes feels like.
Now, there are many other things that I’ve had to research. I’ve chatted with many people about their experiences, and I’ve had to imagine and envision some aspects of this story. But I’d like to think that in the end, readers remember the authenticity of the characters’ emotions.
Head on over to my book tour stop for today, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, to read an excerpt and enter for your chance to win a free copy of my book!