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.