Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's get personal

I thought it might be fun and informative to give you a few interesting tidbits about me and how it affects how and what I write. There's an element of every author in every story they create. It's the foundation for our themes, our voice, and sometimes even our characters.

I don't have a fascinating or interesting life. Far from it. I live too frugally for one thing, plus I tend to stay on the safer side of living. However, that being said, life can be unpredictable and some of my past experiences serve as fodder for my writing. Though I've never been kidnapped, I have been in jail. And though I've never flown an airplane, I've jumped out of a few. And though I'm not an orphan, I am adopted. So you can kind of see how I might extract the emotions and perceptions from the aforementioned experiences to inject into my writing.

I'm not going to expound on a bunch of my real life scenarios all at once and bore you all to death, but I'll reveal a little here and there as the mood strikes. First I'd like to offer you a touch of background on why the need for family and a sense of belonging is such a strong theme in my Knight's Curse books about Chalice.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm adopted. I was raised by loving adoptive parents and I'd never have it any other way. I grew up knowing I wasn't the biological progeny of my mom and dad, and it didn't bother me. It did, however, inspire curiosity among my friends and their parents, so there was always a kind of stigma that set me apart and made me feel different. I exaggerated that feeling when I created Chalice.

Chalice has a strong need for acceptance, though she attempts to deny it at first. It's not until she learns that she's descended from an order of female knights from the Crusades that she makes it her goal to search for her family. She's never belonged before, and finally there's a chance that she can. In the second book she achieves her goal only to confront the risk of losing it again.

Like Chalice, I also searched for my biological roots. It wasn't until after my first two children were born that I felt a need for answers, for both myself and my offspring. Did I find what I was looking for? Check back to learn the answer, as well as some revealed secrets that I never would have found if I hadn't looked.

If you're a writer, how do you use your experiences to fuel your writing?


Chris Devlin said...

Ooh, you've got me curious.

I draw heavily from real life in some of my work, not so much in others. (Though, of course, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely a coincidence. Or something.)

I look forward to hearing more of your journey.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Chris, for stopping by. I really had to think hard about what might interest others about me. Admittedly there isn't a lot, but one person's meh could be another's ooh!

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Chris, for stopping by. I really had to think hard about what might interest others about me. Admittedly there isn't a lot, but one person's meh could be another's ooh!

Diana Mcc. said...

Yes! I do draw on my pass experiences. The summer I spent at my grandma's farm led is the fodder for the setting of my current novel, right down to the black berry bushes and the old quarry.

I want to know more about your journey!

Karen Duvall said...

Very cool, Diana. Writers are always challenged with reinventing reality for their fiction. How do you describe how it feels to get shot? Or bitten by an alligator? Or a chandelier falling on your head? It's gotta come from somewhere because you have to make the experience real for the reader.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Writers probably can't help but rely on personal experience to enhance their "out of nowhere" story ideas. You've made a cool connection with Chalice. So far, I've mostly used familiar settings more than I've used familiar character traits or personal events.

Mary Gillgannon said...

I found your post very moving, Karen. I agree that our own emotional experiences tend to shape our fiction. My father died when I was 18 and we never really worked things out. In almost all my books my heroine's father is dead or dies in the book. And most of my characters are "outsiders" in some way, mirroring my own sense of not fitting in as I grew up in a small town in the Midwest.

I'd like to hear more about the things that shaped you and your fiction.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Mary! That's so true. My adoptive dad died when I was 9 so I was without a father figure most of my life. My adoptive mom remarried twice after that and I did end up with a couple of step fathers. It's just not the same.

That feeling of being on the outside always colors my fiction as well. Often in a good way. It's that "otherness" that makes them special. :)