Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Guest Blogger: Jennie Bentley: Reflections on Truth and Fiction
My husband’s a funny guy. Not hah-hah, laugh-a-minute, lampshade-on-the-head funny—although he can do that, too—but strange funny. Like, when I make him read some of my writing (and ‘make’ is the appropriate word here; he loves me, but he doesn’t like to read), and he says, “Yeah, I liked it, especially when you said...” and then he goes on to quote one of my protagonist’s lines. Or “Yeah, that was pretty good, when you did such-and-such.” Or “No, I didn’t like it when you kissed that guy.”
No kidding. I wouldn’t like it either, if he was the one doing it.
Except I’m not actually doing it. My protagonist is. Which should be obvious, since she has a different name than I do, and is kissing some guy who only exists in my imagination. On paper. But to my husband, obviously I am the main character of whichever manuscript I’m working on at the moment. And she’s me. Never mind the fact that he knows quite well that I’m not a New York City textile designer renovating houses in Maine. We live in Nashville, and DH sees me there every morning when he wakes up. So it’s not like I’ve got a secret life somewhere else.
DH isn’t the only person to think this. Other people also ask, “So are you like your character?” They seem somewhat disappointed when I say apologetically that no, I’m really not.
Or maybe I am. At least to a degree. Enough to relate, anyway.
Avery is a New Yorker born and bred. She grew up on the Upper West Side and graduated from Parsons School of Design.
I lived in New York for a few years. Long enough to get to know and love it. I’ve been to the Upper West Side, and I know what Parsons School of Design looks like, from the outside.
Avery is a 31-year-old textile designer turned home renovator in Maine, after inheriting her Aunt Inga’s home and cats.
I waved goodbye to 31 a few years ago, and I’ve never been a textile designer, nor have I ever inherited anything worth having, but there isn’t much I don’t know about home renovation. My family has owned eight houses over the past eight years, and renovated all of them. Most around our ears as we tried to go about our business as usual, with two kids, a dog, a parakeet, and a goldfish. No cats, because I’m allergic to them.
Avery is in love with Derek, who’s six feet tall, with hair that’s a little closer to blonde than brown, and dreamy blue eyes with long lashes.
I’ve been married for longer than I care to remember to DH, who is just under six feet tall, with blonde hair and eyes that are a little closer to green than blue, and surrounded by the kind of lashes any woman would gladly sell her soul for.
Avery is short—5’2” or 5’3”—with lots of strawberry blonde hair, freckles, and a fashion sense that borders on the eccentric. Derek calls her Tinkerbell.
I’m more like 5’8”, and no one in their right mind would call me Tinkerbell. Not if they wanted to live. Instead, I’m what is usually referred to as a ‘statuesque brunette.’ My fashion sense is non-existent, since like the majority of writers, I live under a rock.
Avery is insecure, a little cynical, a little hopeful, prone to being sarcastic, and quick to take offense.
We may not have any outward characteristics in common, but she speaks with my voice. Her reactions are my reactions. Her thoughts are my thoughts, her feelings my feelings. She’s me, deep inside. The experiences that shaped her may not be the same experiences that shaped me, but the end result is much the same.
Ultimately, I guess it’s a compliment. I’ve created a character that’s real enough that people expect her to be a real person. And I could have worse complaints than that.
Jennie Bentley is the author of the Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. When she’s not writing about real estate, she’s buying it, selling it, or renovating it somewhere in Nashville, Tennessee. You can find out more about her at http://www.jenniebentley.com/ or http://www.theabcsofdiy.blogspot.com/