"Whether we are describing a king, an assassin, a thief, an honest man, a prostitute, a nun, a young girl, or a stallholder in a market, it is always ourselves that we are describing." -- Guy de Maupassant
Anyone who knows me well and reads A NOVEL IDEA invariably says, "Oh Aimee, Norah is so...you." And it's true -out of all my published novels thus far, Norah is the character who is closest to my true self -- the bookish, romantic (but mildly deluded) city girl who often makes a fool out of herself for the sake of love. Some key differences are that Norah is an older, not a younger sister; Norah grew up in Brooklyn, I in Queens; and (for better or worse) Norah's parents are a lot less involved in her life than my parents were when I was growing up.
But the novel I just finished writing --THE YEAR MY SISTER GOT LUCKY (my first hardcover--out from Scholastic in December 07!) has a character who is so me it's ridiculous. Her name is Katya and, like me, she is curly-haired, a ballet dancer, and has a close, complex relationship with her older sister. That's what the novel is about actually -- the two sisters, and how they change when they move to a small town. It was such a fulfilling experience, writing this book, but because it's so personal, it also gave me the most trouble. It's funny how when we write characters that are NOT us, there's a greater sense of freedom, a sense of play -- less investment. When our books are semi-autobiographical, there's more weight, more at risk.
But aren't all our characters versions of ourselves? I love the above quote by one of my favorite authors (if you haven't read his short stories--you must--they're fabulous exercises in economy and surprise endings). I like to think that some of my characters are not even a slight version of myself -- but, really, how can that be? They come from me, after all. It's like trying to deny that your biological children share your genes.
What do other authors think? Are most of your characters versions of yourselves? Or do you consciously try to separate yourself from the people who populate your fictional worlds?
Hope everyone is relishing in the warmth!