Today, we have another author on her book blog tour, sponsored by WOW! Women on Writing.
Please welcome Lisa deNikolits, author of The Hungry Mirror, as she offers her advice on how to use real people in fiction. There will be a book giveaway! Leave a comment or question for Lisa and one lucky commenter will be selected to receive Lisa’s novel.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She also lived and worked in the U.S.A., Sydney, Australia, and London, England. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and contributed to various international anthologies. She has been an art director on Vogue, Vogue Living, marie claire, and Cosmopolitan. Visit www.lisadenikolitswriter.com for information about the book and www.lisadenikolitsdesign.com for more information about her career as an art director.
REAL PEOPLE IN FICTION
Lisa de Nikolits
“You’re like a magpie,” my guitar teacher complained, “you always want me to teach you the flashy shiny pieces. It’s like you’ve got a radar for them.”
And your point would be? I thought.
“And your point would be?” I said.
Little did he know that my desire for flashy, shiny things was hardly relegated to guitar pieces alone. My hunger to write about anything, anyone, anywhere, means that everybody in my life – stranger, friend, family or foe, well, they are all equal flashy, shiny, sparkly bits, all of which can be used to adorn and accessorize my literary pieces.
It’s not that I mean to write about them, per se, of course not, but I see the glint of the sunshine on a sidewalk in a way not many people can. I stop, I pick up that shiny thing and I turn it into art, conceptual art, word art. My art, my words.
And now, my words, my book has been published.
“Where can I get a copy?” my guitar teacher asks.
“Uh, it’s not really your thing,” I say.
“Well it’s women’s fiction. You know, body image, eating disorders, things like that. Not your cup of tea.”
“My wife might like it?”
Oh dear. Yes, she might. But what she might not like is the guest-featured appearance of her husband’s name, adorning a rather obnoxious but central character.
Here’s the thing. My guitar teacher has a fairly ordinary name. But it’s spelt in an unusual way.
Why did I borrow his name? Because I was searching for a name for my character, an obnoxious man, an uncommunicative, withdrawn, mostly cruel man.
And my guitar teacher’s name was just perfect.
So I send him an email.
“Look, I had to borrow your name. The character isn’t based on you but you keep asking me for the book and so I had to tell you that I borrowed your name. I had to.”
Now, three days later, I haven’t heard back from him. But he is generally reticent with replies, despite the fact that he’s been my teacher for over six years now.
Hmmm… I wonder if he’s angry. Even if he is, I would do it again, of course I would.
A woman read one of my short stories and accurately recognized her idiosyncrasies. She told me I was greedy for using them in my writing. I couldn’t apologize to her because if I really were sorry, I would never do it again, and I can’t make that commitment.
I changed her name. I changed her circumstance, I changed her appearance, her country of origin. She was completely unrecognizable to anyone except to herself. And, let me say this; I knew she would hate to be mentioned, even in an entirely fictitious manner. But because her idiosyncrasies were bright and flashy, I had to have them. I am like an idiosyncratic kleptomaniac.
And then of course there are the people who look for themselves in my writing.
“Miranda, she’s based on me of course,” an ex-editor, good friend of mine commented after reading a manuscript I sent her.
Miranda? No way… Miranda is a complete work of fiction, and a very distinctive one at that. She comes from a dysfunctional family, single mother, drug addict brother, poverty, abuse, alcoholism. Miranda pulled herself up through life, she clawed her way to the top, clawed her way to a level of glossy middle-class success. She remained isolated nonetheless, unable to make friends or have lovers, she was fearful of any intoxicating substance.
I had known nothing about my ex-editor friend’s early life.
“Uh, Miranda is a complete work of fiction,” I felt compelled to say. An uneasy silence followed. Too much information acquired by pure accident.
So, real people in fiction. Always. Particularly if they are bright, shiny and flashy. Klepto word magpie me.
Thanks again to Lisa deNikolits! Please leave your love for our guest author in the comment box below ; )