Every once in a while, someone asks if I’m ruled by [emotion or experience], because this character in this one of my books they just read displays that. This question both fascinates and amuses me. The act of writing fiction is, at its core, asking the question “what if?” about one or more things. What if magic was real? What if people could change shape into wolves? What if a person with lots of anger had to work with other people? What if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated? What if aliens came to plunder our resources and show us the true meaning of love? What if Excalibur was forged from mithril by Hephaestus in Asgard for Captain Kirk to fight Darth Vader?
Every writer puts something of him/herself into their work. My brain makes ideas different from anyone else’s because of who I am, and the same holds true for everyone. My characters, however, are not me. They have bits and bobs of me. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a book of mine that doesn’t contain at least one smartass, for example. (You may draw your own conclusions about this statement.)
The point, however, is that although writers write what they know, that thing may be known from research, study of psychology, experiences of a friend/family member, or plain ol’ riffing on a lark. Your friendly neighborhood fiction writer makes stuff up for a living. That includes people. And, as it turns out, talking animals. Sarcastic, talking animals.
Lee French has published several fantasy and science fiction novels, and is a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff