I have often wondered just how much or how little of the author’s personality and experiences end up in a fictional character.
Have they climbed mountains,
Have they escaped from what is almost the inescapable,
Have they been shot, tortured, or worse,
Have they been dumped, or divorced,
Have they travelled to dangerous places, or got 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, more to the point, who do I want to be today?
Or it can be a question, out of left 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’re writing your latest story?” it would make more sense.
Am I myself today?
Am I some fictional character an amalgam of 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.