I just returned home from a trip to New York and Chicago. While in New York, I attended the Book Expo America. The expo was held at the Javits Center on the Hudson River, which is a huge venue! The event was crawling with publishers, agents, authors, fans and others in the book business.
The names of the big publishers hung from the ceiling to indicate where they were located in the room. There were book signings (with long line-ups for the well-known authors) and book give-aways galore. I left the event with more books than I wanted to carry.
It was exciting to be among so many people in the book industry. Writing is such a solitary endeavour. It was refreshing — and inspiring — to be around others who care about stories and books as much as I do.
I’m reading a book right now by Carla Neggers. It’s called Secrets of the Lost Summer. I’m almost half-way through the novel, and, well, nothing has really happened. And yet, I’m hooked! This is a book that falls squarely in the “romance” genre, and yet the two main characters have shared only one quick kiss so far.
I find the same thing with Nicholas Sparks books – the stories build ever so slowly… and yet I’m a huge Nicholas Sparks fan.
I think as long as the characters are believable and interesting, the writing is easy to read, and there is a continual building toward something significant, we as readers can be quite patient.
I’m scheduled to speak at a young writer’s conference next weekend, and my topic is Real Life in Fiction – writing about what you know. The more I looked into the subject and the more I thought about it, I realized, as writers, we are all inspired by our real lives and experiences.
Even fantasy and science fiction writers are inspired, to some extent, by their real-life experiences and the people they know. Hermione in Harry Potter is based loosely on JK Rowling as a kid. Ron Weasley is inspired by JK Rowling’s best friend.
Stephenie Meyer admits that her faith (as a Mormon) has influenced her Twilight stories and characters. She says that her characters “tend to think more about where they came from, and where they are going, than might be typical.”
As I started to dissect my latest book – I realized all the ways my real-life experiences had inadvertently seeped into my novel. The main character has a very different personality from me, but our experiences are similar. Meanwhile, the secondary character is strongly reminiscent of my mother.
I suspect you could find remnants of the author’s life and experiences in every work of fiction. We are inspired by our own experiences, by the things that interest us, and by the events, situations and people around us.