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.


  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.

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

  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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