Making Stories “Real”

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I’ve been asked if my characters are based on “real life” people that I know and if I use  events from my own life in my stories.

None of my characters remind me of anyone I know, although I often use friends’ names. As of yet, I haven’t used any of their mannerisms or physical traits—only their names as small tributes to their friendship.

As far as events are concerned, Runaways: The Long Journey Home was written in response to a recurring dream. I had dreamed the first few minutes of Jake’s escape so many times, that I simply had to see where the story took him. Where the dream ended, my imagination began. The book tells the story of abuse and forgiveness that has touched many lives.

My dog, Baxter, will appear in my next book, Simon Says. Although he doesn’t play a large part in the story, he will be portrayed accurately, including many of his quirky habits. So far, making him come alive through description has proven to be lots of fun.

If you are planning to use a real life event, or portray a friend of yours as one of your characters, be sure to get their permission. It might save you a lot of heartache should your friend not see past events in quite the same way as you have portrayed them. Don’t let that discourage you, however. Some of the best stories are those real life accounts that uplift and encourage the human spirit.

Finally, I do choose to honor people in my life who mean a lot to me or have influenced me in some way. I do this on the dedication page. For example, I have dedicated my first interactive picture book for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers to my parents. (Mom has Alzheimer’s and Dad is her faithful companion and caregiver.) Although they are not portrayed in, I Remember the Seasons, my mother’s memories did influence my choice of what to include within its pages.