How much of our fiction writing is drawn from real life? How often do we base our characters on people we know? And are those places we invent actually drawn from childhood memories, or somewhere we’ve once visited, or a bit of both?
Writers of speculative fiction can create whole new worlds, races of people, social structures, weaponry, even entire languages that come straight from their imaginations. How they do that is beyond me. Like most of us, I have to have points of reference. If I write about a bunch of little kids having a fight, I have to remember a schoolyard altercation I was involved in, witnessed, or heard about, and develop the scene from there.
So, when someone asks me if a character in a piece of fiction is actually me, it’s hard to respond with an unequivocal, ‘No!’ even when the character is about to do something really despicable—not like me at all, I assure you. I certainly base my characters on elements of real people, and my own experiences, but that’s where the similarity ends. I’ve no desire to embark on an evil mission of world domination, thank you very much, but it is fun working out how it can be done. In fact … oh, forget it, that one’s already been tried.
How much of you and your experiences goes into your writing?