Friday, 2 March 2012

Is all good fiction autobiographical?

One of the things that used to worry me about writing was that I would give too much away. That I would somehow reveal things about myself that I didn't want others to know. I got over that when I was writing Sunliner and that might be why I was able to finish it and why it works as a book. For the record I think it does, although your views may differ.
Obviously I was many years from being born at the time when the book is set and I've never sold used cars; but elements of Curtis's story and his quest for redemption are very personal. I'm not going to go into detail here but people who know me very well could probably pick out a few things.
So, for me Sunliner was a success because I cared about the characters. I put Curtis through some real shit on his journey but hopefully the emotional pain he feels is more real to the reader than the physical. I cared about JJ too - I hated him but also had sympathy for the abused child that had grown into the monster in the book.
As a teenager I was a big fan of Stephen King and a lot of his early work still resonates with me. Probably my two favourites are 'Carrie' and 'The Shining' and I think those two books work as well as they do (and achieved the massive success that they did) because the lead characters are so deeply personal to King. In Jack Torrance especially King reveals things that lesser writers might not have had the guts too and it's that emotional turmoil that makes 'The Shining' such a great book.
I've been struggling a bit of late with my next project and have realised today that the problem (and indeed the problem I'd had in the past) was that I had stories I liked but not characters I loved.
I'm going to try and remedy that.



With thanks to Mamma Tortoise for helpful insight.

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