One of the questions I am asked most frequently is: “Do you write about your life in your books?” (Although lately I am asked non-stop about 50 SHADES OF GRAY. Sigh.) It’s always interesting to me that people would rather believe that I actually know a few werewolves than that I could construct such a disturbing set of circumstances out of my boring, Midwestern life.
However, when I look back on the fifty odd novels, novellas and short stories, I’ve written, I can find quite a few instances where a few truths crept into the fiction. The majority of my novels take place where I’ve lived or visited. Many of the characters impressions of those places are my own.
Sometimes a character is based on someone I met in my travels. For instance, when I decided to set the second trilogy of my Nightcreature Novels in New Orleans, IV and I took a three day tour. I’d been there twice before, but I needed more specific knowledge. The first day we were there, we ended up in an Irish bar off of Bourbon Street. The place had a terrific juke box that played Patsy Cline. The bartender was a gorgeous red head from Boston whose name was Diana. The bar appears in CRESCENT MOON as Kelly’s, where Patsy Cline sings “Crazy” while the heroine, a red head named Diana, asks pertinent questions of the bartender and the patrons.
Several other incidents on that trip to New Orleans, and the one I took after Katrina, made their way into CRESCENT MOON, MIDNIGHT MOON and RISING MOON (check out the jazz clubs on Frenchmen; they might seem familiar) and the novella “Voodoo Moon.”
Looking back, a lot of truth made its way into my fictional Harlequin Superromances. For instance, the dogs in DOCTOR, DOCTOR were named Jake and Elwood after the Blues Brothers. So were mine. The gun shy hound dog, Clint, in A SHERIFF IN TENNESSEE got his behavior from a pathetic excuse for a hunting dog we once had.
The little boy in LEAVE IT TO MAX is very similar to a little boy who used to live at my house (he grew into a young man when I wasn’t looking). A lot of his best lines ended up coming out of Max’s mouth. This little guy always opened all the doors and cabinets in every room he was in. You never knew what might be in there. He was accident prone big time. The day I went to the Fed Ex box to mail the manuscript (about a little boy with a broken arm) I returned home to a phone call from the school informing me that my version of Max had one too. That was kind of creepy. IV begged me to “never put him in a book.”
The heroine of my urban fantasy series “The Phoenix Chronicles” is from Milwaukee. So am I. Luckily I do not have to fight demons like Liz Phoenix.
Do you like books with a touch of reality or do you prefer complete and utter fantasy? If you write, do you put little tidbits of your life into your books? And as a reader how much reality is too much?