I think this question has been asked to every author at every book signing, literary event and convention since time immemorial.
But it is an honest inquiry.
Why do authors choose to do this? What was the first spark?
Personally, I started writing when I was a kid. I remember going to the movies and left wondering what happened after the lights came up. Did they all really live happily ever after? What about the bad guys? Did the surviving ones see the error of their ways?
So, I dabbled, keeping a handful of journals just to get the thoughts onto paper. Wrote on my high school newspaper, working in movie reviews and opinions primarily.
But it wasn’t until writing a satirical column about the mind controlling powers of Cabbage Patch Kids that I found my true calling in the world of fiction. (Sadly, the local newspaper did not print the article, but the editor gave me some very good advice: Don’t stop.)
I didn’t stop, but I did put my writing on hold. It wasn’t until I read the final book in a somewhat successful YA series, which will remain nameless, and after suppressing the urge to throw said book across the room for crappy story telling and ridiculous character choices, I decided to write my own story.
Most authors start as fans.
We read something that sparks our interest and decide, “You know? I don’t think ‘insert-character-name-here’ should’ve gone into that room. If I were writing their story…”
And so it begins. But creating a unique perspective on a well-known concept is the true test of any aspiring wordsmith. We all know about good v. evil, we know the bad guys will get their comeuppance or mend their ways.
But there has to be more than that. It’s in the shades of good and evil that we find the truly interesting characters. Our heroes need vices and our villains must have some redeeming qualities.
As readers of fiction, we want to be transported into worlds where our problems vanish. Will they still be there when the last sentence has been read?
Sure, but maybe by living vicariously through someone else’s live, be they real or imaginary, just maybe we can find a new angle to examine the difficulties of our own lives.
I mean, after all, if Frodo could find the strength to climb Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring, I can certainly face my annoying coworker on Monday morning?
For me, I found myself on that exact ledge where readers first meet our heroine.
A crisis of faith is a good jumping off point, no pun intended. In that moment, the voices of my characters screamed to the forefront, needing to be heard. Authors often talk about the voices in their heads and it is very true.
Sometimes, character inspiration can be found in the grocery store, at the coffee house, or even in your own home.
So, why did I write my book? I did because it was finally time to step out of the sidelines and get into the game.
My players have taken the field and now, all I can do is hope that, at the end of the day, my characters, and my words, will prove themselves worthy of recognition and remembrance.
If you believe in your words, and if you truly love your story, then others will follow suit.
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