I can’t speak for every author, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that most writers weasel their way into their stories one way or another. It’s impossible to completely distant oneself from one’s work. Whether it’s their own passionate interests, life experiences, or personal demons, the writer can be found all over the pages they produce, between the lines or around every word. Writers write what they know, or want to know; who they are or what they believe permeates their narratives.
John Irving wrote about his two great passions – writing and wrestling – on numerous occasions; not so much about wrestling anymore, but his recent works continue to delve intimately, almost obsessively, in the psyche of the writer. It’s as though he’s sharing secrets, or making confessions, about himself as he approaches those final chapters of his own life.
Poets, especially, are known for bleeding onto their pages, viscerally sharing their experiences, their inner voices.
At a recent reading, Tracy Weber, author of the Downward Dog Mystery Series, admitted to “killing” a rude neighbor of hers in one of her books. I’ve mentioned before: be careful what you say or do around an author. You may unwittingly be immortalized, or murdered, within one of their novels.
You can probably come up with your own examples of what I’m talking about.
A few weeks back, a member of the Kenmore Buy-Nothing Book Club inquired if I was anywhere in my novel The Quieting West. Besides the book stemming from my interests in the Old West and the silent film era, I made an appearance as Alan Grady, who “is, at best, a mediocre director. He’ll never be anything more than that.” I once fancied myself an up-and-coming filmmaker. The fact that I’m now writing and publishing my own novels tells you how that turned out. Also, my personal experience regarding Hollywood and the film industry are shared (albeit, exaggerated) by the cowboy-turned-movie-star, Billy Colter, throughout the book.
In Gospel for the Damned, my own questions of faith and God are examined, and my experiences as a veterinarian technician come into play on more than one occasion. In fact, I’ve often considered how the animal hospital I worked at sometimes felt like a British comedy series. I’ve imagined it starring the likes of Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous as the lead veterinarians, John Cleese as the part-time vet, and to play me, either Billy Connolly or Rowan Atkinson. Enough stories came out of that little clinic to last several seasons.
There’s one incident in particular that I intend to use in one of my novels someday, if I can find a way to weasel it into a plot. I call it simply, The Ferret Story.