By Tiem Wilson
Have you ever read a novel and asked yourself: is this a real-life experience for the author? When you read about certain tragedies in a story do you find yourself wondering how much of it is a first-hand account? In your own writing, how much of yourself can you see reflected in the characters?
In a recent conversation with my nephew, this question was asked in reference to Blair Underwood, actor-turned-author. Underwood currently has two published novels featuring the character Tennyson Hardwick. Hardwick is a struggling actor. Thus, we pondered how much of Hardwick’s life is mirrored from Underwood’s own close encounters?
The same question was posed to Eric Jerome Dickey when he penned Between Lovers. It is a heart-felt story of a now bestselling author confronting the woman who left him at the altar early on in his career. The experience is so compelling you truly feel it is Dickey’s own broken heart bleeding on those pages. Based on the love scenes in all of his novels, my girlfriends and I have had many wine-induced conversations about the kind of lover Dickey must be in real life. We wondered when would he have time to write?
More recently, this question was answered by author Alice Sebold. I just finished listening to a production of The Lovely Bones on audiobook. In the author interview, Sebold revealed there is a common thread shared between herself and the main character, Susie. Sebold professed she was a rape victim at age 18. Although she obviously lived through her ordeal, she admited that a lot of herself came out as Susie’s character began to take form.
I have tried to pen an experience for a novel. I never get too far as I realize my life, at times, is quite boring. Therefore, I stick to characters that have exciting experiences I only dream of. It has been said that everyone has a story to tell. The quest then becomes turning that story into a never ending journey to pass down through the generations.