Now, I’ve only been at this writing business for a relatively short time, but I’ve already discovered that if you write something and publish it, someone is going to have a nagging suspicion you wrote about them.
You ARE, aren’t you?
The problem? Sometimes they’re RIGHT. But, you know, I write fiction, so I’m going to take a bit here and a bob there and frankenstein a character. The interesting thing about this phenomenon, though, is that most of the time the people from whom I borrowed aren’t going to recognize themselves. People see themselves in characters I had no idea they might. Or they believe firmly they know who I’m writing about underneath that thin veil.
I’m guilty of this behavior as a reader, but it’s a new experience to be on the receiving end. Part of me accepts it’s going to happen and prepares to counter all questions with “No, it’s not you. It’s not me. It’s not anybody you know.”, and part of me is worried that my friends will think I see them in such a bad light (I mean, I do write about criminals)!
Wait… you think I did what?
But when it comes to fiction, anything goes, and I had a strange experience myself when listening to a story read by my cousin, an accomplished author himself. The story melded reality and fiction, and included my father from a time before I remembered him, very clearly identified by name and personal history. That half-real vision of my father gave me an uneasy feeling, the way seeing yourself filmed when you don’t know you’re being filmed might–a different and unexpected perspective.
Share your thoughts
As an author, how do you feel about using the people and circumstances around you?
As a reader, do you believe you know an author from the characters they write?
And if you’re a reader who knows an author, do you search for yourself in their work?
Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.