Sandra gaves us a choice of blog topics this time around. I chose this one:
Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences? Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?
It was a tradition at my high school. Every year, during prom, a couple of students would read the list of wills and prophecies the junior class had created for the seniors.
I dreaded thinking about what they had written for me. It was a small school. I was a bit of a wallflower. And even wallflowers stand out at small schools. At the time, the last thing I wanted to do was stand out.
So there I sat with my date, who was also my best friend's boyfriend (figure that one out), suppressing a panic attack as they read my will: "I, Kathryn Harris, bestow my lengthy criminal record to Ryan M."
It was brilliant. I didn't have a criminal record. I'd never had a detention. I probably hadn't even had a late assignment. On the other hand, Ryan M. had already had multiple run-ins with figures of authority.
As everyone laughed -- including myself -- I realized that the thing that stood out most about me was the fact that I did nothing to stand out.
Although this wallflower has blossomed a little bit over the years, not much has changed. I tend to live within the parameters established by my standards, my faith, my vows and my mom's guilt. (And that last one is like a brick wall.)
I'm pretty sure the everyday life of a suburban-dwelling, career-minded mother of two is not the stuff good books are made of. So, yes, my characters are significantly different from me.
One of my heroines comes from a trainwreck of a home, doesn't think twice about dropping the "F-bomb" and snorts coke like a celebrity at an after-party party. The other explodes out of her goody-two-shoes mold, has an affair that leads to attempted murder that leads to something much, much crazier. (But so much fun.)
There was not a lot of research involved in the creation of these characters. After living with an alcoholic for so many years, it wasn't difficult to get into the mindset of an addict. It was, however, uncomfortable the first time I realized that character's drug of choice was coke.
I'm also still trying to establish a comfort zone with the other heroine's promiscuity and to find a way of tactfully conveying that aspect of her life. I'm confident that eventually will happen.
I think, deep down, these two characters are the result of the years and years I've spent suppressing my bad-girl side. (Really? Did I just write that?) It's a way to get into trouble without actually breaking the law. It's a form of escapism and vicarious living.
And I suppose the differences between myself and my characters do have an impact on the story. But that's what makes the stories mine.
How are your characters different from you?
Check out what Michelle H. had to say about this topic before me. Also, don't miss what Christine has to say tomorrow.