One of the things I enjoy about doing the different book festivals is the opportunity to meet with readers and talk about writing, my novels, characters and crazy ideas.
Along with the display of my books and a jar of sour gummy worms or “Bookworms” I also keep a stack of bookmarks on the table. The front has the cover art for my four mysteries. But it’s the back side that almost always gets a laugh or two.
When I first started writing the Jamie Richmond stories, I had a couple of friends who were willing to read early drafts and give me some feedback. I didn’t realize it at first, but turns out both of these young ladies were redheads. So you can see where this is going. While they enjoyed the story and had some great insights, each one basically said the same thing.
“You based this character on me.”
“What makes you think that?” I asked, knowing all of my characters are a compilation of physical descriptions and traits that I’ve either observed or made up out of thin air.
“Because she’s a stubborn redhead.”
I hesitated for a nanosecond. “Every redhead I’ve ever met is stubborn.”
Despite my protests, they continued to argue their case. Reluctantly I gave up. Somewhere along the line I muttered “whatever gets you through the night.”
Flash forward a couple of years and this situation continued to repeat itself with other people I know. I’d even gone so far as to point to the disclaimer inside the books, which basically confirms these as works of fiction and any resemblance to actual people living or dead is strictly coincidental. Yeah, that didn’t help much.
Frustrated with these attempts to claim their influence on my creativity, I drafted the following message and began printing it on the back of the bookmarks.
· You are in the presence of an author. Anything you say or do may end up in a published story or novel.
· These interactions may be altered to fit the character and ultimately may not be flattering to you.
· Your physical appearance, wardrobe, behavior and demeanor may be adjusted. Any body art, piercings, hair extensions and surgical enhancements may be exaggerated or eliminated.
· All characters created are the result of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to any person living or dead is strictly coincidental. Yes, really.
· You will not receive compensation or acknowledgment for your contributions to the story.
I make it a point to share this with people at the festivals. Because you never know when someone you see might inspire a new character. So you’ve been warned. If our paths cross, you just might end up in a story.
Recalling the events that lead to the warning reminded me of the perfect song to go with it.
Also, last week I learned that the video interview I did with the local public library is now available. So if you want to hear my pitch for the latest book, check it out.