Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing Wednesday: About the Author

A couple of months ago I read this book called Younger that I got for free from Amazon.  The premise is that a 57-year-old marketing person for a cosmetics company is laid off and volunteers to be a guinea pig for a new skin care product that makes her look 25.  An important distinction is that unlike my many ridiculous books like say Chance of a Lifetime, where a 50-year-old guy becomes an 18-year-old girl, she's only young-looking on the outside and only for a limited time.

Anyway, I get to the end of the book and then the About the Author screen comes up and wouldn't you know that the author just so happens to be a fifty-something-year-old woman who worked as a marketing person for a cosmetics company?  And gee, the picture of her looks very similar to how the character is described.

This isn't the first time I've seen that.  Like when I read The Time Traveler's Wife and gee, the author has red hair like the main character and is into some paper shaping or whatever like the main character.  What a coincidence!

Michael Offutt wrote a post and said that he writes to escape reality, which is why his characters are not like him.    To that I said, "Yeah, can you imagine if all my characters were fat, bald, unemployed accountants?"  Ugh.  No one would want to read them then.  I mean, even fewer.

I suppose the common thread of the two books I mentioned is that they were both by first-time authors.  If you've never written a book before then it's pretty easy to turn your story into wish-fulfillment instead of trying to imagine a different character.

Not that my characters are completely different from me.  A lot of my characters like Frost Devereaux or Emma Earl are pretty socially awkward.  They're just not as fat or bald and have more interesting jobs.

Anyway, when I see that an author is using herself as the main character I do tend to groan.  Not only does it seem lazy, it seems really narcissistic too.  How self-centered do you have to be to make yourself the center of this whole little fantasy?  Self-centered enough to be marketing cosmetics.

I say try harder, authors!  Or at the very least give your heroine a different color hair.  Throw us off the scent that much.

3 comments:

  1. That's an interesting observation. I wonder if women authors tend to internalize/project more which is why Twilight resonated so well with its audience. After all, the main character was written in such a way as to basically be an empty shell for anyone to mentally occupy.

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  2. I'm guilty of this with hair color, but other than that not really. You definitely write about characters different than yourself.

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  3. People say "write what you know" so maybe that's the first step. I like to read science-fiction and am pretty confident there aren't many alien warlord authors.

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