While participating in a reader and author chat recently I was asked if I wrote about real life situations in my books. Of course I answered no, my books are fiction but then I started to think. There is actually some of my life in everything I write. I’m not talking about basing characters on people I know or anything like that, but the background information often contains pieces of me. Let me use my Sydney Cougar series to explain what I mean.
I’m Australian, born in Sydney and spent a significant part of my life living in the outer suburbs of the city. In my younger years, and sometimes now, I’d visit the inner city to meet with friends and socialize. Sydney is a part of my life. The city and I have a history, so when it came to writing my novellas it seemed like the most logical place to use as a backdrop for the stories. Now I’m in no way saying that the books are based on real life because the characters only exist within my mind. The Cougar Club isn’t a real place (although I’d like it to beJ) and none of the events portrayed between the characters has taken place with anyone I know. However, Oxford Street is a real place, the inner city suburbs mentioned, like Milson’s point, are real, you can sit under the harbor bridge and view the Opera House in the distance and watch the boats flitting around the harbor. The streets Katie run down to get to St. Vincent’s hospital in Catching a Cougar are all authentic, as is the hospital. I’ve sat under the bridge and watched New Years Eve, fireworks, caught ferries around the harbor, spent nights in Kings Cross enjoying the nightlife it has to offer and translated some of that knowledge into my stories.
I’m sure I’m not the only author who writes this way and, for me, it makes perfect sense to do so. I’m an avid reader as well as a writer and the books I enjoy reading most are the ones that I relate to on some level. They’re believable, something rings true within me as I read them and I find it easier to engage with the story, like the characters and generally enjoy my reading experience.
For me fiction needs to be believable and in order for that to happen, there has to be elements of truth woven through the fantasy. The truth may be a location like I used with my cougar novellas or it may be something else. It could be a perfectly described emotion, a relationship challenge between characters, or personality trait of a character. It may be a combination of all those things. I wouldn’t be surprised if the things I relate to when reading are experiences close to the authors heart, something they understand on an intimate level.
On a girl’s night out not long ago, one of my friends had just finished reading my first book, Finding Angel. She was surprised that one of the houses described in the book was actually a house I’d lived in. She asked why I’d used my own house and I explained it was just a coincidence. The house sounded like mine, but it wasn’t really, after all most little cottages in rural communities look the same. It wasn’t until I went back and re-read the section she’d mentioned that I realized the cottage described was mine. Without realizing it at the time I’d woven an element of truth into the story and given readers a little piece of me.
I'd like to thank Jan for joining us on Labelle Books and for offering us a generous giveaway today.
You all know the drill, leave us a comment on this thread with your email address and follow this blog for a chance to win your choice of Jan's Secret Cravings Publishing 'Cougar Series' and let us know which book in the series you have on your wish list.
Your choices are:
1. The Cougar Club
2. Catching a Cougar
3. Healing a Cougar's Heart
4. Seducing a Cougar
Here is the link to Jan's Books, so you can check them out: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=97&zenid=d94e6e336d09cb5ee5f24b0237e03591
The winner will be announced on Wednesday Aug. 8
~Author Jennifer Labelle~