Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feeling Fictional

Posted by: PG Forte
A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. Originally, I planned on writing an homage to Charles Addams, whose 100th birthday was yesterday. I remember as a child being fascinated by the books of macabre, very "grown-up" cartoons I found on my parents' living room shelves.

 We always had a lot of books, some of them strange, the result of several generations of eclectic tastes, but these were definitely among the most "out of place" objects in an otherwise typical suburban living room. Another was an almost-ten-foot-tall original oil painting of an angel guarding two small children, but that's another story!

As I researched photos and videos to add to this post, I stumbled across this:

This is a house a very young Charles Addams walked by every day, going back and forth to school. It's thought to be one of the houses he used for inspiration when depicting the house his cartoon Addams Family lived in.

I also had a friend whose family lived in a not dissimilar house... the real one, that is, not the cartoon! I always loved that house. And when I wrote my first book and was looking for a suitably atmospheric house, I drew on the experience of visiting there to give my characters a perfect home.

When I sat down to write this post, fairly early in the morning for me, I brought my breakfast with me, to eat at my desk. Which is kind of when it hit me. See, today's breakfast is one I'd had some other characters eat.  In fact, simple as it is, I more or less invented it specifically for those characters. That I was eating it now meant my fictional life was bleeding over into my physical life...kind of the reverse of what Charles Addams did with that house. The more I thought about that, the more I realized how very much I do that.

My characters frequently go to fictional events that are similar (if not identical) to actual ones I've attended. They often live in fictional towns that are conglomerations of real towns I've either lived in or visited. We frequently have similar interests. I have a tattoo that originated with one of them and whenever I update my resume I have to remember that I really can't claim their job experience as my own. That last one is a lot harder than you might think. My daughter and I recently discussed the (extremely unlikely) possibility of opening a real-life bakery based on one I've written about.

I suspect this blurring of the line between fact and fantasy is fairly common among authors. It certainly makes for a more interesting life than all those hours spent behind the keyboard would suggest.  I think readers often have a hard time keeping it straight as well. I've recently had two readers express an interest in having me cook for them. I think they really want my professional chef character, or maybe my baker, but they're not available.

However, if peanut butter and jelly is what they want, I'm their gal. Just as soon as I finish this next scene...

What about you? How much of what you read do you attempt to replicate in your own life? Or, if you're an author, how much of what you live finds its way into your books?

And finally, happy birthday, Charles, from a child who was relieved to learn she was not the only one in the world with a macabre sense of humor.

Find out more about PG Forte, here or here or follow her on twitter @pgforte


  1. Well my beta readers pointed out that I was making EVERY heroine left handed and some of the heroes too...guess who is left handed? (Raises left hand). LOL!

  2. Ok, so that explains why Google went all Addamm's family on me the other day :)

    Great post, PG. It is interesting what slips in from our "real" lives...and vice versa :)

  3. Veronica--yes! Lefties rule!

    Jenny--glad I could help clear up the mystery for you. ;)

  4. I know that (small details especially) slip over from real life into stories but I've never really considered that it might happen the other way around. Except, now that you mention it, I may possibly have had a conversation with my daughter about why I think the principal at her new school is actually a werewolf.

  5. I'm still looking for the rabbit hole that leads to wonderland, so I'd say I incorporate a fairly decent amount of what I read into my real life!! :D

  6. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.
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