Monday, July 20, 2015
A case of mistaken identity
Many readers are under the impression that all writers "write what they know." So your protagonist is probably you, too, right?
Uh, no. My protagonist in my first two books was a single photographer named Lydia McKenzie. Apparently I was convincing in describing her photography since a couple of readers asked me about my photography career. I like taking pictures, and used to be a filmmaker--but I've never worked as a photographer.
I suppose really Lydia McKenzie and I have many more differences than similarities. She's younger, single, loves wearing crazy vintage clothes and desperately trying to get her art career off the ground by landing a show. I'm married, a mom, and I write books. I like clothes, but certainly never put together crazy outfits. At least, not ones I ever thought were crazy.
But I certainly know enough about Lydia McKenzie's world to write about it. I am married to an artist, so I know enough about New York galleries to write a plot around one. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn so I could write confidently about our neighborhood and all the crazy characters. And I have plenty of single friends who told me crazy stories of dating in New York.
Now I've moved on to a standalone. Probably all three of my main characters have elements of myself in them at different times in my life. The 12-year-old girl loves to read. The private eye loves to find out the truth. And the teller has big dreams of an artistic lives. I certainly use things that happened to me. But to be clear, I never robbed a bank or kidnapped someone, so I had to figure out how to write about those things (just like I had to write about finding dead bodies). And that's the truth.