Fiction Friday – 14 December 2007

This Week’s Theme: What is the skeleton in your character’s closet?

“Your characters seem so real, and the situations they find themselves in are told in such a compelling manner that the reader feels that they are witnessing a true event. Do you draw much upon real life for your work?”

Ah, that old question. The journalists have been asking that since book one. It’s almost as if they can’t quite believe that someone could imagine new situations, new stories. How do they imagine any book gets written. I’ve been asked this question dozens of times before, and I give a version of my stock answer. You would think someone would have noticed by now…

“Well of course, a writer will always draw inspiration from their own life, so in one respect the characters are real, the situations are real – because they all reflect certain truths about society, about people. And I put certain aspects of me into some characters, I have to in order to get a sense of what they are about. But the rest is down to an abundance of imagination.”

There, that ought to be enough for you…

The interview wraps up. The final one for the day, thankfully. Everyone raving about the latest in my murder mystery series – Killing Kindly – and wondering how do I get into the mind of a killer like that? Marvelling at the realism of the scenes. If only they knew…

I hide the evidence of course. It wouldn’t do if people found out the real stories behind the books. If they ever did, my reputation would be ruined. Each story, each and every one of these stories has profited me, but burdens me, a guilty little secret. All those characters. All those killings. A truly gifted writer could have come up with those scenarios all by themselves. With only their imagination. But I’m not a gifted writer. I haven’t created any of them. I just write what I see in front of me.

And then I hide the evidence of my crimes. Safely locked away. I’m sure one day I will be found out, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the ride.

And I’m going to thank my lucky stars the day I discovered all these unpublished manuscripts lying in a box in a garage sale. I read them, I realised they were good, and going to waste. So I changed some names, changed some locations, and I write what I see in front of me.

The manuscripts of someone unpublished and forgotten. Only their words, their stories remain now. Words that I have claimed for my own…

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5 thoughts on “Fiction Friday – 14 December 2007”

  1. A little predictable but as always well written. I like the idea of the guy killing someone and then publishing their unpublished manuscripts as his own work… truly creepy.

  2. The first part really drew me in. I’m a bit confused, though. If the writer does the killing himself and writes about it, why would he need the manuscript he discovered in the garage sale?

  3. I was beginning to think I was erring too much on the side of subtlety with this one, but The Alchemist got it! The guy writing the books hasn’t killed anyone, but I wanted you to think he had.

    “I write what I see in front of me” is not the bodies and the crimes, but the manuscripts. His crime is plagiarism, not murder.

    I think I should stick to Gideon for the time being…

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