I am so tickled to have special guest C. Hope Clark posting today. Hope is not only a fabulous writer, she’s the brain-child behind Funds For Writers, the go-to proverbial bible for writers in all stages of their careers. I’ve been reading Funds For Writers for more years than I can count and am honored to now call Hope a friend. Welcome, Hope!
Lynn Chandler Willis is as dedicated a grandmother as I’ve ever seen. Family is the center of her world. So when asked to do this guest blog post, I itched to discuss family and the writer, and how the partnership is often crazy, hilarious, and eye-rolling unbelievable.
Blogs and forums abound with writer discussions about how to address the urchins that interfere with our journeys toward bestseller-dom. Of course we love the brats. No questioning that. Like kittens, they’re cute and can’t help themselves. We write around them, knowing one day they’ll grow up and allow us more time to create.
But what do you do when they are in their twenties and still in the way? And what about parents? Sisters, uncles and cousins? Once you publish a book or two, invariably your predecessors, successors, as well as those on the odd bent branches of the family tree, get in your way. And they are not as forgivable as kittens.
When I released Lowcountry Bribe, the first in my Carolina Slade Mystery Series, family and friends devoured the book, pointing out which character was which relation, enjoying the inside joke they thought they knew. (Except for my mother, who ordered me never to write about her.) My son asked why I made him a girl. The assumption was I had to be the protagonist and my husband the romantic interest. They pointed out “errors” in the story, telling me my children were never kidnapped, so why put that in the book? I developed a list of one-liners in response to these reactions, the main one being, “It’s fiction, people. That means pretend.” They’d roll their eyes as if they knew better.
When Tidewater Murder came out a year later, they quizzically scratched their heads. “Who is this?” they’d ask. “When did this happen?” Only one new character went into that book with a slight resemblance to a dear friend, a friend who’d challenged me to include him. The story was the purest fiction I’d ever written. “What?” they asked. “What fun is that?” “You sure this isn’t our cousin from Mississippi?”
And don’t get me started about the romantic scenes. “Did y’all really get it on, like on the beach like that?” Cue the standard reply, “It’s fiction.” Or consider the time my son said on Facebook about the subject, “Imagine how reading that stuff makes me feel?”
Or what about the ex-husband who won’t pick up the book because . . . there’s an ex-husband in the story. After all, writers “write what they know” and he believes I probably, subconsciously, wrote about him.
The public, and therefore our relatives, think every tale of fiction is rooted in reality, and some instances probably are. We use our experiences as catalysts. But we avoid the use of clones, resumes, and biographies taken from our family tree for obvious reasons . . . hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and the potential for misrepresentation. But what is it about families and their fear they are, yet wanting to be, subjects in a book?
Maybe it’s that desire for the proverbial 15-minutes of fame. Maybe it’s a way of feeling honored by being blood-kin to a famous author (tongue-in-cheek there). Maybe they can’t let loose of reality to spin fable, and don’t understand those who do.
Palmetto Poison is Slade’s third story, and this time she is full-bore investigating the most complex case of her life. Enter her boyfriend, his ex-wife (also an agent), his sister, Slade’s sister, kids, and a complete family feuding cornucopia of families she investigates for murder, drugs, and political favors.
My family won’t know how to react!
C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series with its newest release Palmetto Poison, available wherever books are sold. Please visit her website at http://chopeclark.com She is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, selected for Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for 14 years.