'The past is never dead...'
If some of the settings for the book are real, the characters most definitely are not.
Well, Richard does share a passing physical resemblance to someone I know, but
other than that they are all completely imagined.
I think the most difficult part of writing fiction is creating convincing characters.
After all, no-one wants to waste time reading about people they can’t relate to or don’t
care about. And once you have created your character it is even harder to describe
them in such a way they slip into the reader’s consciousness without disrupting the story.
The intriguing thing is that however I describe a character you, the reader, will see them
differently. I have been told it’s important to say that Alice is skinny and Owen is fair
haired so that you will know but I don’t actually think it matters all that much because
your skinny, and your fair hair, will be different to mine.
What is important is their personalities and although as I wrote a book I got to know them very well there were times when they still surprised me, times when they wrote their own lines as we went along. It’s a wonderful feeling when that happens – you know you are really under their skins.
I know that most of the people who have read the book as a work in progress really relate to Alice as a woman trying to rebuild her life following a relationship breakdown. Most of us recognise how that feels, how it is liberating and tough at the same time – and how your corkscrew can easily become your best friend.
Owen is less accessible. I make no bones about the fact he is an unusual hero, because for much of the book he is wobbling along the edges of mental instability. I have been told not to write about people with mental health issues, that it would make the book unattractive to mainstream publishers, but here I am sticking to my guns.
One in three people will suffer from some sort of mental illness during their lives and they have every right to be heroes too. They certainly don’t deserve to be written out of romantic fiction because of it – they are ‘allowed’ in ‘serious’ novels, after all. OK, rant over. If you agree, please take a look at www.time-to-change.org.uk and join their campaign.
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