This week The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pan answered questions about where writers get their characters. The answers were insightful and entertaining, but in my experience, when someone other than another writer asks this question, they mean something entirely different. http://sisterhoodofthetravelingpen.wordpress.com/
When Redneck Goddess was published, the first question men friends who bought and read the book asked was some variation of:
“Where’d you get the idea for the stud your ‘main character’ couldn’t keep her hands off?”
By which they meant,
“I know I’m the stud and the book is your public confession of your long time and barely concealed hots for me.”
Many of these men, bless their hearts, weigh well over three hundred pounds, are bald and have never heard of a nose hair clipper. Okay, I made that part up, but, seriously, the love interest in Redneck Goddess is a hot young Latino with the personality of a sexy saint. Come on guys, really?
Women, always more subtle, whispered some variation of:
“I don’t appreciate something I told you in confidence being put out there in black and white for the whole world to read."
Here’s the thing, the protagonist is a hot twenty-eight year old with flaming red hair and legs all the way to her ass. I’m not sure why you think the book is about you and the waiter at the Mexican café who poured an extra shot of Padron in your margarita when you tipped him a Franklin on Cinco de Mayo?
You get the idea. The need for friends and family to define the book by their influence on you just seems universal. It’s the same conundrum as that old query, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
It is difficult for friends and family to look past ME to see the book, the message. I don’t know why that surprises me.
For twenty years didn’t I hear the surprised exclamation, “Wow, your boys are really smart? Is their dad a major brain?”