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Fiction: Autobiographical or not?


People occasionally ask me whether any of the characters in my novels are, essentially, me. The short answer is, no. The longer answer is, well, it depends on how you look at it.


First, you have to realize that including real people in your fiction is problematic from a writing perspective (and can be problematic from a legal perspective, but that’s a different subject). Real people have their own personalities, their own quirks and mannerisms. But more important, real people have their own motivations and ways of dealing with life.


That’s a problem if the real person’s motivation or way of dealing with life conflicts with what you want their character to do in your story. And trust me, they always conflict sooner or later. So for the most part, writers don’t use real people in their fiction, though they may take inspiration from individual personality traits or mannerisms. But then they build a character who serves their story, not one who reflects a real person.


The deeper answer to the question of whether any character in a novel *is* the author revolves around how fiction works. Every novel, every short story, every bit of fiction is written by someone—a human being with their own personality traits, quirks, and worldview. In other words, every character in every work of fiction is filtered through the mind of the author.


So in a way, every character is autobiographical. So is every story. Just as there’s no such thing as an unbiased translation, there’s no such thing as a work of fiction that isn’t in some way a reflection of the author.


Authors do their best to create realistic characters with a variety of personalities and points of view. But ultimately, every character is a facet of the author’s imagination.


So they’re all autobiographical. And also, they’re not. At the same time.


My next work of fiction, The Last Priestess of Malia, will be available for pre-order in early September and will be released September 23. You can find my other books, including the two novels pictured above, here.

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Copyright © 2019 by Laura Perry