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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

She's Not Me

Recently, I was talking to someone who had read Touch Of Fire, and she gave me this saucy grin and shook her finger at me.

"Wow!" she said. "I had no idea you were like that."

I shook my head and reminded yet another reader: I am NOT my characters. This isn't the first time I've had this conversation.

To be fair, I've done my own share of raising eyebrows when I read work from people I know. A few whom I know VERY well have on occasion decorated their MCs with a little too much personal information.

It's kind of icky.

Not that you shouldn't write what you know, but if friends already know your darker idiosyncrasies and it shows up as your characters' quirks, it makes for uncomfortable dinner table conversation when the subject is your novel.

And I know it's silly of me to say this, but this is the main reason I've never been fond of first person point of view in adult books. I just don't like reading: I did this, I slew that. I made love to a giant centaur who was putting it to my sister too. :shudders:

In the example with the woman reading Touch Of Fire, the reader doesn't even know me, other than in passing. She assumes that since I wrote this novel, I must be this really wild chick.

She obviously has never seen me in my 20 year old pajamas, or the intravenous bags of Coke Zero that are pumped into my veins while I'm writing these scenes.

Yeah, buddy. Greg just gets all excited when he sees me like that. LOL!

So what do you think? Should I be offended that she thinks I'm writing 'me'? Or is it a compliment to my skills as a sexologist?

(Oh, Lord. I wonder how many Google hits I'll get for using the word, sexologist.)

Writers: Do readers sometimes mistake you for your characters?
Readers: Do you ever wonder if the author is writing from intimate experience?


Mike Keyton said...

Hey, I've just googled Sexologist, and boy am I disappointed about reading about 20 year old pyjamas and coke. Get your act together, woman.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: ROTFL!

Well, let's see... I have to be comfy (and caffeinated) when I write sex scenes. Whereas sex kitten status demands thigh high boots and black leather.

I think I prefer my pajamas.

jacabur1 said...

I prefer the jammies too, mine used to have booties and a trap door!! LOL

I would never think of the main character in a book male or female as being based on the author unless stated otherwise. Reading is not about making a connection between what is real and what is not for me, it is all about escaping into a story for a few hours or days and enjoying the thing!!!

jackie b central texas

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: is all about escaping into a story...

I know, right! It is very weird when people confuse me with the main character. I'm more the sword-wielding crone type. LOL.

jacabur1 said...

LMAO, the sword weilding "Crone Type" oh my goodness would not wan to meet her in the dark!!

I need to get up early more often, otherwise miss all the fun!!!

jackie b central texas

Sherri said...

I get that writers pull from their experiences but would hope it's not blow by blow...ick...if I thought an author was doing that I don't think I could continue reading.

Joanne said...

I suspect an author is writing from their own experiences when I see a scene, or similar character, or overall theme repeated over and over again throughout their books. It makes me think they are only writing what they know, and not venturing beyond that.

Maria Zannini said...


Good thing most of them keep mum about it, though I've seen a few fess up on their blogs.

My policy is don't ask, don't tell. LOL.

Maria Zannini said...


You bring up an excellent observation. I used to crit an (unpubbed) writer who did just that. Every one of her manuscripts was like watching her therapy in action.

Liz Fichera said...

The reader is giving you a compliment, I think. She must really be getting into your characters (no pun intended) and therefore digging your writing! I know what you mean by first vs. third POV but first person POV always feels a little more personal to me as a reader. I guess it kinda depends on the book.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Liz!

I mostly like first person in YA and thrillers. Not so much in erotic romance. Though I have read a few authors who handle it well.

Maybe it's all the "I's" that stick out like trees bobbing in an ocean.

Wendy Ramer said...

I feel your pain. My two published novels are written in first person (b/c I think I handle that voice better), and people constantly confuse me for my characters. One flighty friend even said, "I never knew you were an orphan." (in reference to the main character in my most recent book) I replied with a look of disgust, "You know my mother."

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: "You know my mother."

Oh, Wendy! That is hilarious!!

I don't feel so bad now.

Thanks for stopping in. You made my day.

catie james said...

Given everything I've learned about writing over the last ten years, I tend to operate on the assumption that authors & writers aren't inserting themselves into their stories. Personally, I think it's rude to even make such assumptions (unless they are close to that person), let alone give voice to such opinions. But that's just me.

Maria Zannini said...

I suppose it is a little rude, though this person is so 'out there' I didn't take it personally. That's just her personality talking.

Dru said...

I try not to make assumptions and since I know most authors do plenty of research, I don't associate what I read what who they are. That is, unless they tell me so.

Maria Zannini said...


And that's way I wish all readers reacted. :)

Thanks, Dru.

Barbara Ann Wright said...'re my favorite sexologist! Even though I don't know what one is! I had somebody once ask me if my characters turned me on, and that creeped me out big time.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: I had somebody once ask me if my characters turned me on, and that creeped me out big time.

ewww! Very creepy. Ya gotta wonder about some people.

India Drummond said...

I don't think it's an insult for sure, but it just shows the inexperience of the reader. Non-writers often just can't imagine coming up with ideas outside themselves, so they assume you don't either. I think it's much harder for people who write contemporary fiction than for those of us who write paranormal or fantasy, because no one asks if we actually know faeries!

Maria Zannini said...


I think you hit the nail on the head. This person admitted to me she didn't read a lot of fiction--but she was so excited at meeting a real author, she had to buy the book.

Case solved. Thanks!