Stephen King says building memorable and believable characters is nothing more or less than our own observation of human beings and our ability to tell the truth.
He also says, tell the truth and you won't be popular in polite society for long.
I remember being fourteen or fifteen years old. Being afraid all the time, and turning hard to hide that fear. Looking at the violence and addiction around me, the teenaged parents, the kids who came out of prison dead eyed and flat faced and the ones who never got more than a memorial page in the yearbook, I was scared.
I remember sitting with Interview With a Vampire and getting my first clear vision of a life beyond what I knew. The thought that I might one day sit at a sidewalk cafe on a sunny street in Paris was impossible, but too tantalizing to resist.
I got tastes of what I wanted, but I also plumbed a lot of my own personal darkness. One day, I finally did get free. My dreams came true because I paid what they cost.
When my work goes wrong, this is usually where it gets lost: it loses its honesty. It's tempting to write these sort of nifty-clean thrillers where you can imagine Roger Moore in the lead. Or genteel murder mysteries where old ladies have to figure out who killed the vicar. Hell, I love to read that stuff.
But that's not my voice. It's part of the human condition I can relate to vicariously, but not the part that I can speak from with any authority. I *can* be honest about fear, about predators and victims and souls in moral freefall, about violence, hope and love.
I once couch-surfed with a stripper/sometime hooker and her disgraced cop boyfriend/sometime pimp. I can be honest about the love and anger and sadness between them in a way that I can't about, say, a witty and debonair jewel thief, or a group of high school kids throwing a party with their parents out of town.
The Tiny Dynamo sometimes wishes I wrote Regency Romance. She's afraid to let her parents see my work. *My* parents never finished my first book. Ten pages, and they were out.
When the Dynamo read about the Christchurch I know, she was aghast. But she also admitted every word was true. So these last couple weeks, that's a lot of what I've been doing with this (almost finished) retrenchment.
Telling the truth.
RAPID TRANSIT: VOLUME ONE NOW AVAILABLE - Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple, and Kobo First of three volumes. Feel free to review the book as you see fit. E-book now, trade pb in a m...
13 hours ago