January 9th 2015
Although my published book Veil Of Time is not formulaic, it is enough so (I guess) that it can be marketed as Time Travel Romance. I maintain that the characters are more interesting than that, especially the protagonist and that there are real issues in this book, especially the loss of the sacred feminine. Still, readers of time travel and readers of romance are buying it, and that has to say something.
But the current book I am writing (or rather re-writing, because it is such an overhaul, it feels like working it up from scratch) Hazel and the Chessmen is quite the opposite. One of my two main characters is so damn complicated, it's like being in a relationship myself and not knowing how to gauge the guy, unsure if he is really sane at all while needing to believe he is. I don't even know if my lady protagonist should end up with him. The cost of living with a guy like that might be just too high. And then as a writer, when you get into a situation like this, you have to wonder if what's going on is a war between two parts of yourself - why does this character feel so out of control? Why do I feel like a detective with a flashlight instead of a creator of fiction?
Like much of the world I have become enthralled with the "This American Life" podcast, Serial: The case against Adnan Seyd. In 1999, the then eighteen year old was convicted of strangling his girlfriend, basically on the evidence of an acquaintance who shifted his story every time the police questioned him. Investigative journalist Sarah Koenig has taken it upon herself to take another look at the case (by now Adnan Seyd has served fifteen years behind bars and still insists on his innocence.) The investigation goes on over twelve or so episodes, and it has you shaking your head: sometimes Adnan looks guilty, a clever sociopath trying to play you for a fool, other times his innocence is unquestionable.
But this feels like where I am right now in my book. I get up in the morning, having decided to tackle some particular turn of events in the story, and then that guy, my protagonist, won't let me. Just as in the murder case, I am left wondering who is playing whom.
So is Oscar Wilde right when he said, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life." Or is it the other way around? It's an odd parasitic relationship, but who is biting whom? Maybe Woody Allen has it right when he says, "Life doesn't imitate art. It imitates bad television."