Friday, May 20, 2005


A while ago someone I was talking to at a party was convinced that I wrote because I was trying to communicate with my parents. I thought that was a really pretty daft assumption: I live with my parents, and I communicate with them every day. I don't use my writing as a way to explain myself. I use my mouth - and I use it a lot.

But recently I got to thinking about how a lot of writers have similar themes and character types they come back to a lot in their books, especially romance writers. Sarah Mason writes slightly clueless heroines with big, loopy families; Jennifer Crusie gives her characters a lot of baggage; Jude Deveraux has a lot of pioneering spirits (no matter what the time period).

It made me wonder if I have a pattern. So, because I'm in a Carrie Bradshaw mood, I'm going to pose a question. Do all writers ultimately use their writing to talk about themselves? Do we have inescapable patterns, whether we like it or not?

(Okay, that's two questions, but Carrie did it all the time)

At first I thought not (because I don't like to be predictable), and then I thought about all my main characters and realised... I do. Certainly there's a bit of a pattern. Chalia, who never fitted in at home, and is now in a foreign world; Tallie, who likes sharp things and hot men in a culture where women still wear long dresses; Tanner, the mercenary son of a prostitute, heading up a police force in a very polite city; Striker, who's a psycho by anyone's description.

And that's just one book.

Chance, who has powers and abilities like no one else in existence. Molly with her blue hair and stripy stockings. Emmy who fixes cars for a living while her contemporaries shop and get boob jobs. And dear old Sophie, who hasn't a clue what's going on even before she becomes a spy.

They're all misfits. All of my most beloved characters are total outsiders. Will who's dyslexic and never got on at school; Luke with his licence to kill and frigid family; Tyrnan the nobleman's son who robs coaches for fun. And these are the characters I've already got down on paper - up and coming characters may include Tyra the librarian who's also a siren; Kett the shapeshifter who spent half her childhood as a statue; Loli the drummer with a business degree, and many other wacky characters full of thrills.

(Yes, there are several genres here. Try to guess which ones: you may be pleasantly surprised)

So maybe I do have a pattern. Well, not maybe - I do. All of these characters are people who don't fit in with their world and are just trying to find someone who actually gets them. Probably this is why I write Sophie so obsessively: because she started out based on me, and the more I write of her the more I can get what I want. I get to blow stuff up and wear couture dresses and tell very scary people to fuck off. And I also get Luke, who gets me, and loves me, and doesn't make me feel like an outsider so much any more.

Maybe I am trying to communicate here. I know I really love talking about myself (duh, what do you think a blog is for?). It would be a load of bollocks to pretend that all my characters are me in disguse, but it probably wouldn't be a lie if I said I use them to get things that I want.

I miss Carrie's questions, don't you?

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