Love, laughter, and bright bulbs #mfrwauthor

Welcome to the second year of the Marketing for Romance Writers yearlong blog hop. This week, the writing prompt is:

How much of myself is in my writing?

Short answer: Less and less with each book.

Hoornaert, Perfect Ten

My first book, writing as ‘Judi Edwards’.

Long answer: My first published novel contained a number of elements of my life. The setting was the Chicago neighborhood where I went to the University of Chicago. The heroine worked in a hardware store catering to apartment janitors; I made good money working summers as a union janitor.

The heroine played the oboe, as do I, and though I’ve written an inordinate number of characters who play my instrument, this book is the most musical of all. The hero was her conductor. The conflict between them was a class conflict between the working class woman and old-money hero . . . which was a strain I felt in my own life as the first guy in my family to graduate from university.

None of my fourteen following books have been nearly so autobiographical. Nowadays, there’s little of my life in my books, other than my general outlook on life.

  • Intelligence is one of the most admirable qualities, so my heroines are always smart. I’ve struggled with a character in my current WIP who is a less than sharp tack.
  • There’s usually a spark of humor hidden in even the darkest clouds. That’s where I get my site’s motto: Sci fi with romance and humor.
  • And of course, love conquers most problems. I’m too much of a realist to say it conquers all — yet in my books, it does.

These three traits are all front and center in my December release, Rescuing Prince Charming. The heroine is one smart cookie, working on the construction of Earth’s first starship (trait #1).

She has a snarky tongue (trait #2).

And of course, love bridges all gaps between her and the alien prince she loves (trait #3).

What about you?

How much of yourself do you put into your novels? Be sure to check out the other writers taking part in this blog hop.

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24 comments

  1. I think it’s common for early books to be more autobiographical or personal than later ones. That’s certainly true of me. Indeed, I’ve made a conscious effort to write about characters who are different from me — something other than extremely well-educated middle class white women with a kinky streak!

    So I have one book where the heroine is a working class gal from Pittsburgh who barely finished high school; another where the heroine is a black single mom who runs a blues club; yet another where the heroine is a half Indian/half British Mata Hari type in an alternative Victorian England…

    Still, I’ve rarely if ever written a stupid character. It’s just not in my genes.

    1. Like you, I write characters who are very different from me, with different experiences . . . but then, most of my books are science fiction, so of course the experiences are different. I haven’t written a lot of alien species, but the response to those I’ve done has been quite positive. And they, of course, aren’t like me.

      I wonder, though, if some of your attitudes don’t creep in. I have a lot of characters who feel that they’re outsiders because they’re of a lower social class, or that they have to prove that they belong because of their upbringing. I’ve felt that way myself.

      Regarding the heroine I mentioned who isn’t mentally sharp, I think I may have to alter that aspect of her. Maybe her intelligence and maturity have been stunted by horrible events when she was thirteen, rather than her having little native intelligence.

  2. LOL….my mom read my 2nd book and asked, ‘How autobiographical is this….no, don’t tell me; I don’t want to know.” If she only knew…..that book went through MULTIPLE edits until most of the ‘real ‘ stuff was edited out!

    1. I’ve used a few ‘real’ experiences in my books, but not many — and not my most out-there experiences. I’ve never written about single-handedly constructing a garage out of logs, or having a bear claw at the door of my house, trying to get in . . . or (blush) being a fugitive from the law.

  3. I’m always afraid of putting too much of myself into my stories because I feel like people who know me will look for it. I admire the way you add your outlook on life into your books. I think that’s a great approach.

    1. Actually, I think it’s an inevitable approach. Can we really keep our ideals and unexamined prejudices from creeping into our characters? I’m not sure that I, at least, could do it. (That said, writing is GREAT for bringing those unexamined prejudices to the surface, where we have to examine them.)

  4. Cathy Brockman · · Reply

    I like your outlook on life and how you put it in your stories. Looks like I’m the oddball that puts a lot in my stories LOL

    1. All writers are oddballs in one way or another.

  5. Great point that we put less and less of ourselves in our books as we continue to write. Maybe there’s some comfort in staying close to home in the early books while we’re honing our craft.

    1. There’s also the matter than our craft expands as we write, enabling us to write characters and situations we wouldn’t have dared touch when we’re newbies.

  6. I sprinkle very little of me- I’d rather live vicariously through my characters. I enjoyed your post!

    1. I’m sure there’s a broad spectrum of approaches to this issue.

  7. Ed, your Alien Contact series sounds like a blast! I grabbed the first two books in the series.

    1. You are truly an excellent human being!

  8. Makes sense that inclusion lessens over time. Starting out, you’re looking for inspiration and it’s easiest to look closer to home. The more you write (and this is all just a guess) you learn more about yourself as a writer and can branch out.

    1. That first book is equivalent to a baby’s first steps; I wasn’t ready to race to the stars. Although strictly speaking this wasn’t my first novel but my second. I have absolutely no recollection of what the first one was about.

  9. I’m in awe of your use of some details in your life in your early work. I’ve never done that, but you’ve inspired me to try. I do, however, put my preferences in through and through. I wouldn’t want to read it otherwise, let alone write it!

    1. No awe is called for, Trevann — I chose these details because they were all I could think of! At least I think that’s why I did it; it’s been a looong time since wrote The Perfect Ten.

  10. I think we grasp for things to include in a first book, so a lot more of an author’s real self and their surroundings are included. I can see your point about generally including certain aspects of your world view in any book – I’d have a difficult time writing an true alpha hero (the arrogant jerk type), because I can’t stand them.

    1. I totally agree about alpha jerks.

  11. I give my characters personality tests and try to remember to make them respond the way they would respond and not the way I would respond. Unless they’re like me – then it’s way easier.

    1. I have a question:, and it’s half serious and half tongue in cheek. How do you get your characters to fill out a personality test?

  12. I’ve never written a character based on me .. or anyone I know. But I write about the places I know, and I tend to create female lead characters who have the attitudes, preferences and behaviours I admire. I love the sound of your latest release Ed!

    1. I’ve never consciously based a character on myself. Looking at my first book in hindsight, Melody sure had a lot of me.

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