Does The Age Of Your Characters Get Older As You Do?

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There’s a theory (and it might just be my theory but I’m sure there are others who espouse it, too) that most main characters are simply disguised versions of the author writing them. Sometimes the disguises make that fact virtually unrecognisable. Sometimes the disguises are so thin the authors might as well not have bothered.

A quick glance over the marital, gender, racial and family statuses of my main characters shows that I only write people who are single, female, white and childless. Single because it allows for a bit of romantic tension with a supporting male lead. Female because I always feel like I am doing a disservice when I attempt to write in a male voice, both to men and to my writing abilities. White because I’m white and while I know writers can and should explore racial identity in their writing, it’s not something I focus on. And childless because having to care for and chauffeur children to their mundane everyday activities really gets in the way of the things I like to make my characters do (such as getting kidnapped, travelling at a moment’s notice, evading authorities, living reclusive lives, that sort of thing).

The one thing that has varied over the years is the age of my main characters. And as I get older (closer to my forties now than I am really all that comfortable with – I read a main character in a novel bemoaning the fact that they were forty and middle-aged and realised I need to start thinking of myself that way as well shortly!), it seems a lot of my main characters are getting older, too. Continue reading

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Reading (Once Is Enough) Versus Rereading (Over And Over Again)

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“Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice about two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like ‘thither’, ‘mischance’, ‘felicity’. I’m always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are really going to get together.”
Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail

“It is a truth generally acknowledged that we are all longing to escape. I escape always to my favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. I’ve read it so many times now the words just say themselves in my head and it’s like a window opening. It’s like I’m actually there.”
Amanda Price in Lost in Austen

What is it about some books that makes us want to read them over and over again? And what is it about others that makes once enough? Continue reading

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Disclaimer #1: I don’t generally read or like fiction that classifies itself as fantasy.

Disclaimer #2: I don’t care what genre of fiction a book is, there are still universals when it comes to good and bad writing, plot, characters and style.

Going into reading this book (as a non-fan of fantasy), I at least hoped I would be able to appreciate it on an objective level. But there wasn’t that much to appreciate. Regardless of the fact that I knew I wouldn’t especially like the genre, there was nothing particularly original about the underlying story. A girl with a unique talent is forced to hide it from general society and is then captured and tortured by those who want to use that talent for their own purposes. There’s an insider who’s secretly on her side (what a stroke of luck, because she never would have gotten through it all in the end without him). There’s a hidden community of people just like her (although she can never really tell who’s on her side or not). And there’s a large group of people who are evil and duplicitous for no real reason that is ever explained. Continue reading

The Autobiography Decision: Who Do You Think You Are?

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Recently a new discussion topic was posted on one of the writing and/or book related groups I am a member of on LinkedIn. The heading went something like this: “Let’s be honest. We all wish we could write our autobiography and people would read it.”

The person posting the topic explained he had been a trophy hunter and in a somewhat poetic reversal, he now cared for hundreds of animals after retiring young. Oh, and he had died three times (and been resuscitated three times presumably).

Now, I’m as self-involved as the next person (maybe a little less considering the emergence of the selfie generation) but I cannot stress emphatically enough how determined I am never to write an autobiography. Continue reading

Book Review: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

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Maybe I’m just a sucker for punishment but I chose to read this because I had just finished The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger and hated it and when I was deciding what to read next, a newspaper review comment in the front of my copy of Less Than Zero caught my eye: “An updated Catcher in the Rye.” Continue reading