Friends and Fodder by Deb Eileen

It is well known that many writers base their protagonist on themselves. There is only one problem with that- I’m boring. My parents gave me a frightfully normal and healthy upbringing.  Although I am sure they had my best interests at heart, this deprived me of material for my creative muse. Sure there were a few times when my dad’s sense of humor would leave me certain I would die of embarrassment, but the Dr. Phil show isn’t going to have me on for this kind of trauma.  Then I went and got happily married- once again denied drama.  No one would want to read a book about me.

This is where you come in.

Friends, family, people sitting next to me on planes- all of you are fodder.  I collect your stories like lint onto black dress pants. I can’t help it. I overhear a conversation in the Starbucks line and I start wondering “what if….”  The next thing you know I am off scribbling on a napkin or in a notebook.

Some stories are too good to pass up. A work colleague told me about a prank where he made a copy of a friend’s car key.  He then would go out during the day and move his friend’s car over one or two parking spaces. Or change it from a pull in park to a back in park. This went on for months. I loved this idea. I had Sophie (my protagonist) do the same prank in an effort to slowly drive her ex-boyfriend insane. Sophie calls it Operation Drive Him Home. The scene still makes me laugh.

I could never write non fiction. My memoir would make James Frey look like Mr. Honesty. I wouldn’t be able to resist the idea of how I could make the situation better, funnier, more tense. I would add people who weren’t there, toss in some snappy dialogue and bring it all home with a BIG ending.

My protagonist has a few things in common with me, she has a few details stolen (I mean borrowed) from friends, family and strangers and there are a few details completely made up. There is no one quite like Sophie- and I can’t wait for you to meet her.

10 Replies to “Friends and Fodder by Deb Eileen”

  1. Now I’m DESPERATE to meet Sophie! She sounds like a cool gal. Love the bit about stealing her ex-boyfriend’s keys. Everyone who has ever wanted to get back at an ex will surely love that scene. If everyone knew we writers were listening in on their conversations, they’d whisper! I love the odd snippets of conversation you catch while passing two people on the sidewalk. One how-to-write book I once read advised writing these snippets down for inspiration on creating character’s, as you’ve mentioned here. Great post, Eileen.

  2. I can’t wait to meet her either 🙂 and I know what you mean. Whenever I write non-fiction articles or shorts, I must call it ‘creative non-fiction’ because I cannot resist the urge to spark it up a bit… know, so people will actually enjoy reading it…….basically……..I’m evil.

  3. It seems ironic to me that you pattern your characters off of us, the people you encounter in your daily life. I find that most people try to mimic their favorite characters in books and movies, often quoting them in response to their daily lives. So, fiction imitates life that imitates fiction. Wonderful!!

  4. I model my bad guys off people I don’t like. Most people kill them off in my genre, but I figure there’s too much sympathy for the victims. My goal is to make readers hate the people who’ve been mean to me.

  5. I knew we were peas. My husband’s nickname is Fodder.

    I once knew someone whose friend moved his car as a joke too only she moved it too far away and he couldn’t find it. He reported it stolen and the police came out and everything.

    My favorite car disappearing story was my friend who went out to get in his car (street parking for his apartment) and couldn’t find it. Instead of calling the police, he called another friend and asked him for advice. The friend said, “Well…how did you get to class today (college)?” He said, “I drove.” The friend said, “And how did you get home?” He answered sheepishly, “Ummmm…I took the bus.”

  6. You called it correctly, Eileen. Growing up without drama is wonderful but boring, however that’s when we become our most creative. Sophie sounds simply fun and that’s not surprising since she’s written “In the Stars.” 😉

  7. I LUUUUVV Sophie! A girl after my own heart. I am going to do the little parking trick on my hubby to keep him on his toes. Provided, of course, that I keep my mouth shut and not tell him about what a great idea it is first (i.e. I’m one of those gals that gets a great deal on a dress and then tells everybody about it instead of letting them think that I buy $$$$ dresses at will).

    I am anxiously awaiting the galley … and the new cover … and the movie!

    PS. Use me as fodder and I will cut off your chocolate supply from Hawaii … I know, that’s a completely empty threat. One of my ex’s said that to me once, which pretty much guaranteed that he will eventually show up in one of my books (though only a bit part – he wasn’t that interesting other than running triathalons and living off my hard-earned money). Oops, did I say that out loud?

  8. I’ve been thinking about this topic too, lately… I’m reading “A Girl Called Zippy” a cute memoir Molly loaned me… I keep thinking… Why didn’t I have an interesting life full of funny stories…

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