My first novel, The Beast of Rose Valley, has a lot of autobiographical elements. Not directly, of course. But my experiences in life all lend themselves to every character and situation.
Some of it comes from pop culture. The cantankerous small town sheriff. The questionable ethics of a shady organization. The spitfire journalist. These are all common tropes that are easy to pull from when I need the bird’s eye view of my novel.
It’s not the broad brush strokes that define a character, though. It’s the details. The way they look. The way they walk. The way they interact with others. What do they love? What do they hate? What trials have they been through that make this journey particularly compelling for them?
And for that, I draw heavily on my own experiences. My biggest fear is that people I know will look at some of these characters and think to themselves, Is this character supposed to be me?
I can lay that question to rest right now. For everyone. The answer is no. It’s not supposed to be you. But…
There may be some of you in it. Maybe your name. Maybe your initials, or the way your name rolls off the tongue. Maybe a character has your hair, or your smile, or some part of your personality that I admire. Maybe they took a similar career trajectory to you, or have similar relationships.
It would be impossible for me to disassociate all of the people I know from the all of the people I create. I strive for authenticity, and pulling in the traits of people who I know are from a small Texas town helps to give me that.
So, many months from now, when you’re reading The Beast of Rose Valley, don’t be shocked when a character reminds you of yourself. It could be coincidence. It was probably intentional.
But first and foremost — it’s a compliment.