I have often wondered just how much or how little of the author’s personality and experiences end up in a fictional character.
Do they climb mountains, escape from what is almost the inescapable, been shot, tortured, get dumped, get divorced, .become world travelers, or get locked up in a foreign jail.
We research, read, and I guess experience some or all of the above on the way to getting the book written, but it’s perhaps an interesting fundamental question.
Who am I today?
Or it can be a question, out of right field, in an interview; “Who are you?”
My initial reaction was to say, “I’m a writer.” But that wasn’t the answer the interviewer is looking for.
Perhaps if she had asked, “Who are you when you are writing your stories?” it would make more sense.
Am I myself?
Am I some fictional character made up from a lot of other people?
Have I got someone definite in mind when I start writing the story?
The short answer might be, “I usually want to be someone other than what I am now. It’s fiction. I can be anyone or anything I want, provided, of course, I know the limitations of the character.”
“So,” she says, “what if you want to be a fireman?”
“I don’t want to be a fireman.”
“But if the story goes in the direction where you need a fireman…”
“What is this thing you have with firemen?” I’m shaking my head. How did we get off track?
“Then I’d have to research the role, but I’m not considering adding a fireman anytime soon.”
She sighs. “Your loss.”
And there is that other very interesting question; “Who would you like to be if you could be someone else?”
A writer in that period between the wars, perhaps like an F Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, in Paris, or if it is a fictional character, Jay Gatsby.
He’s just the sort of person who is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery.