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So, the topic of the day is, “How much of me is in what I write?”
Obviously, unless you believe in reincarnation, I’ve never been a Viking in the deep Norwegian fjords or a Ute Indian fighting for his land during the Civil War. I suck at playing ice hockey, I will never willingly pose before a camera, I haven’t ever volunteered to heroically fight fires, and I certainly haven’t killed anyone (that I know of, anyway).
But my Alv Gunnulfsen is a darn realistic gay Viking avenger and my portrayal of Native American peoples and culture will plunge you into the past so effectively, you’ll think you’re in a Western movie. My hockey champion Slay will take both a Dark Captive and your breath away on the ice rink, romance author Andrea posing in front of a sly photographer in The Perfect Shoot will make you sweat (whether it’s the intense heat from lamps or her proximity to hunky top model Yushka is for you to decide), my firefighter hero Runo will give you multiple heart failures and heart aches in Fiery 10-16, and I swear if you smell blood while reading Wild Hearted, that’s me thrusting a knife between my victim’s ribs and snickering. Or pulling a trigger so brain mass rains all over me, punching his face until it’s an unrecognizable blob, or, after having carved out his carotid, piercing it with the thin tip of a blade, just like that, for fun.
Yeah, because my characters are me. Who did you think gave them a voice, a heart, a soul, a conscience? I’m the one fighting, longing, loving fiercely, getting off, and losing my mind. If you think my characters are malicious and arrogant, yep, that’s me, hello! living out who I cannot be in real life. Does a scene with fusing body parts and loud moans make you hot and bothered? You may point the finger at me: I most likely enjoyed writing that scene. Can you feel one of my characters’ soul bleed? Oh, baby, that’s me crying my heart out. Or maybe you hear a self-satisfied cackle? Yep, I’m the whacko typing away furiously, playing with words, juggling them, carefully gauging their place in a sentence. Eh, over six hundred thousand of them have been thrown out to the wolves by now and I’m still around.
How can I describe any setting or situation if I haven’t been there and done that, you ask? And how do I create – embody – persons I’ve never met, how can I know what they think, how they feel deep inside, and how they are going to react? Well, 50 % of writing a book is research, and I thank the heavens for the internet so I don’t have to travel to the Great Plains in the US or the Sahara desert in Africa to know what it’s like over there – and the other 50 % is me, simply. I’m human, and so I make my characters human. I can be both a man and a woman, or I can choose to be a feminine man falling for other men. I can be good and bad, gentle and terrifying, a slut, a thug, a sadist plotting a vicious murder and lovin’ it, or an angel out to save the world. I can feel young and old, devoid of life or full of it, tormented or thirsting for a fight.
All it takes to start developing a new persona – a new me – is a call from one of my beloved muses talking me into writing a new story, or a publisher offering to assemble stories for an anthology. And as soon as an idea begins to form, you can betcha my character is spending days and nights hovering over my shoulder, whispering into my ear, telling me his miseries and his cravings and his dreams. I know who he is, and come hell or high water, I’ll breathe flames of passion into his soul and bleed tears of love until his story is ready for the world to read.