Monday, October 14, 2013

My Other Children

Do you see Ben & Bria? Maybe? No? Oh well.

I do this weird thing when I'm in crowds. It's worst with crowds of teenagers. I look for people I know. But not real people. Fictional people. My fictional characters.

Yeah. It's weird.

When you write about the same characters for 500 or 50,000 or 150,000 words, they get into your head. In a really deep way. I know things about my characters - about their needs and desires and why they don't eat orange Skittles - things I don't even know about my husband after more than a decade together. Somewhere along the way, my characters become real. 
THE ART OF FALLING takes place in Southern California, where I live. When I find myself in places my characters inhabit, I can't help but scan the crowd, searching for a flash of purple hair or an OHS Athletics hoodie. I expect to see them. I want to see them. 
Being a storyteller is a special kind of madness. I know I've tuned out my real live children to listen to the voices in my head. That's crazy. I've chosen to stay home and write instead of spending time with actual human beings. I've spent days researching hobbies and health conditions and food to make sure I get the details of these lives right. 

And I regret nothing. 
I get to make these characters come alive! I get to watch them take root in my readers' heads and become more than words. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than when someone else talks about one of my characters. Because that's when I know I've done it. 
I've made a character live. 

Do you expect to bump into your characters or maybe the characters in a beloved book? Any words of wisdom for my poor children who have to share me with my imaginary friends?


  1. My characters are definitely real people in my head. I often times wonder where the line between being a writer and being crazy is? Or perhaps it is one and the same?

  2. My husband likes to say "It takes a little bit of crazy to write a book. And you've got plenty of that." I guess I can't really argue with him, when I spend a generous amount of my day worrying about people who don't exist. :-)