Monday, October 17, 2011

Autobiographical? Not!

One of the questions I get asked a lot by readers is whether there is anything from my own life in my books. I’m not sure if it’s because I write romance and they’re trying to figure out if I’m writing about my own sex life, or if they’re wondering whether they should be picturing me as the heroine or what. Perhaps every author gets asked this question, although the question is a lot less voyeuristic if the author writes some other genre. However, I’m going to choose the high road and assume they’re just curious about how I come up with the things in my stories.

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought. No, my stories are not autobiographical, but there are definitely parts of me in them. For example, in my book, A Heart of Little Faith, the heroine describes a scene from her childhood, when she used to pretend her dad’s back was a pizza pie. She’d roll out the dough, sprinkle on the cheese, pat on the toppings, swish on the sauce and her dad would get a great back rub in the process. It’s a cute scene and something I took from my own experience when I was about three years old.

In my upcoming book, Skin Deep, the hero and heroine go to the racetrack with the heroine’s family on Thanksgiving weekend. That scene is pulled directly from my childhood, including the mom’s betting strategy (borrowed from my great-grandmother)—you’ll have to read it to find out what that is—which is the most successful of everyone’s!

What about the heroine? Is she me? No, she’s not. None of my heroines are me. They might have qualities that I wish I had; sometimes they’re a mixture of a number of people. Sometimes they’re reflections of who I wish I could be. But they’re not me.

And the hero? Nope, not my husband either. Not that I’m saying my husband is less than perfect. But he’s mine. I don’t want the hero to be him. I want the hero to be different. Occasionally the hero is a combination of a number of actors I see on TV (George Clooney’s smile, for example). My romances are escapist. While I might ask my husband about a male perspective on something so that I can be sure to get a conversation right or a characterization accurate, my heroes are not my husband.  

One of my favorite authors, Lynn Kurland, has said that her villains are a mixture of her ex-boyfriends. I love that! So what about you? What’s the inspiration for your stories?


  1. Great post, Jen. (I just emailed a similar question to two upcoming Friday Friends.)
    I've found I relate past experiences in my writing. Maybe that's cathartic, and I'll do less of it in time.

  2. I always have people say, "I'll never look and you and John the same way" after they've read one of my books. Right. As if I'd actually write about my own sex life!

    I do include tidbits of my life in my stories. The settings are almost always based on places I've been. I've also included friends as minor characters.

    I love the idea of including ex-boyfriends as villians. Clever, clever!

  3. Hi Ana, yes, I find it cathartic, especially because I do have someone in mind for all my "evil" characters!

    Debra,I know, isn't that idea great? I'll have to try it next time.

  4. Great post, Jen - I agree with everything you said, especially about your heroines being reflections of what you wish you could be.