I’ve been hearing lately that some folks are wondering who certain characters in The Farmer’s Story are based upon. This is very exciting, because it indicates that people are reading and relating in some way to the novel. This is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted for my writing, but I’m not sure how to respond. Do the questions even require a response? If any character was based on any real person (names changed to protect the innocent and all that), would I do a disservice to the reader and the real person both by exposing the link?
I think so. And, wouldn’t that also influence the reader’s vision of the character? Again, I think so.
I’m not a person who’s able to write really out-there science fiction-type novels that are far beyond the realm of my reality. Not my scene. Historical fiction, too, is not my focus. So, I draw from places I’ve really lived and experiences I’ve really had. My current novel-in-progress is slightly autobiographical in the sense that it includes two sisters and a mother and father. It takes place in areas where I’ve really lived, and places I’ve really travelled. But that’s just how the novels are unfolding so far. And similarities do not mean two things are the same.
I believe it’s the fiction writer’s prerogative to weave reality and make-believe into their art. I’ve always said that you have to write what you know, or someone’s going to call bull crap. I’m not into mining other people’s truth for my allegedly lofty creative endeavors. But I also think most of us have very similar stories to tell. Logistics are usually the thing that separate one person’s reality from another. That’s the only way we can relate and feel empathy.
It’s a shared human experience, after all. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.