Friday, August 22, 2014
Today's question is: "Do your characters reveal your values? How?"
MARY JANE MAFFINI:
I think they do in ways I might not even recognize. For the book collector mysteries (as I am half of Victoria Abbott) I'm re-reading books from the Golden Age of Detection, I notice in Sayers, Christie and Marsh,the characters reflect the class politics and racism of the times (20's, 30's, 40's) unrecognized by the authors, but somewhat surprising to us today. Who knows what biases and prejudices are buried in my own work that will be clear to a later generation?
But never mind all that, I do think that our writing reveals our feelings about relationships, family and friends and pets (ahem). Most mystery writers value justice and the quest for it, but how many of us value our crooked uncles? Just saying.
Seriously though, cozy fiction which I enjoy writing and reading presents and genre in which fairly ordinary people consistently step up to the plate in an emergency and that women (often but not always middle-aged) can be brave, tenacious, cunning and funny. But we knew that.
R.J. (ROBIN) HARLICK:
I imagine most authors project some of their values through their characters. It is hard not to, particularly with a character with whom you spend a lot of time, such as a series character. My series character, Meg Harris’s love of nature and the great outdoors is no different than my own. I gave her the kind of cottage I have always wanted, a rambling Victorian timber cottage perched high on a granite point overlooking the sparkling waters of a northern lake.
She spends a lot of time in her screened-in porch contemplating the view and life’s ups and downs. And while I too like to sit in my screened-in porch contemplating the nature around me, my mind is usually caught up in creating Meg’s world. I mustn’t forget her love of dogs, which mirrors my own and funny thing, we both have standard poodles sharing our lives.
Sometimes our characters become our voices. Meg’s sense of fairness and the need to right injustice could be my own, except she is prepared to do something about it. I don’t always have the luxury. Perhaps that is my reason for creating Meg.
LINDA WIKEN/ERIKA CHASE:
It's hard to write a novel without some bits and pieces of the author being integrated. Everyone will probably have an opinion as to whether that's good or bad. So, it's hard not to have them reflect our values, to some degree.
Writing as Erika Chase, I have the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries with Lizzie Turner as my main protagonist. We share the same values about family and friends and even beyond that, the various communities we are a part of. They are very important to her and they influence how she deals with issues. She is very protective of them. That's the excuse, anyway, for her sticking her nose in to all investigations revolving murder -- when they impact on those she cares about.
She also wants to see justice prevail and the bad guys caught. She is a reading specialist and Literacy teacher, so helping to ensure that students have the skills to take advantage of their full potential is also important to her.
Of course, there's a bit of me in Lizzie. But I'm not even sure where the line is placed any more, after living with her through five books (one leaves for the publisher this weekend!). Of course, maybe it's not a line.
As a child of the sixties, I was raised with a passion for social justice and social equity, and am naturally on the side of the underdog. What better outlet for this passion than crime fiction? In my books, I explore the social and personal struggles that drive people to desperate ends. My sleuth, Inspector Green, is the only child of Holocaust survivors, which gives him a passion to pursue justice on behalf of the victimized and to be a voice for the marginalized and powerless. But most of my books inhabit that gray world where no one, neither victim nor villain, is all good and evil, and where justice is as imperfect as those, like Green, who strive for it.