by Giselle Renarde
My girlfriend says all my characters are us.
Wedding Heat collection... Pretty Cousin, I think it was--a story about a lesbian in love with her bride-to-be cousin. It's two days until the wedding, they haven't spoken since Vanessa came out, and Maggie denies the lust is reciprocated. We soon find out the truth.
My girlfriend and I aren't cousins, but that's not really the point. When you're partnered with an author--particularly if that author writes erotica or romance--I think it's pretty natural to assume she's writing about you. Maybe it's even natural to assume that EVERY love interest in your partner's books are YOU. If I were dating an author, I'm sure I'd read myself into every character too.
Friday Night Lipstick. Those women share a lot of Sweet's personality traits. They even dress alike.
But that's an easy connection. What about all those characters who are nothing like her? I contract her as an editor, so she gets to read a whole lot of my work, and the stuff I'm currently writing... wow, it is filthy... and it's not really about US.
I asked her about all this stuff in relation to the taboo manuscript she just handed back to me: a filthy barely-legal pseudo-incest novella called "Dance for Daddy, Salome." In case the title doesn't give it away, it's an adaptation of the Salome story set in the 1970s. My inspiration was Atom Egoyan's interpretation of the Strauss opera. I'm not sure what exactly inspired me to set it in the 70s, but it works surprisingly well.
Anyway, when I asked if she sees us in the ingenue and the "harsh, rapey step-dad" (her words), she said, "
I can't stop thinking about a book talk I attended last year. Broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi was discussing his memoir 1982. When he opened the floor to questions, a girl in the audience asked why he hadn't attempted to contact everybody he mentioned in the book. Hmmm.... ya think maybe she was one of those people?
Jian Ghomeshi responded by saying that many "people" in his book were composite characters, named after one person but based on a number of people.
Audrey & Lawrence fame) are true portraits of actual persons. But most are composites, and more and more, I find that my characters aren't consciously based on anyone I know. In fact, many of them are people I hope I'll never know.
The dirtier my work gets, the more divorced from reality my characters become.
Sometimes I envy them...