A Side of Real Life with my Fiction, Please…

a06a869d2f2cc29fee519ef5f90ccdc8When my husband was reading an early draft of COME AWAY WITH ME, it wasn’t long before he turned to me and asked, “So, I’m Gabe, right?”

(Yes, but only the good parts, naturally …*wink wink*)

Gabe is fictional, of course he is. But there is a lot of my husband in him – from expressions he uses, to moments we’ve had together, to the song Gabe sings and plays on the guitar for Tegan when he proposes (Adam wrote it for me when I described the scene), he’s in there. My mom, too, will recognize an experience she had in Thailand in COME AWAY WITH ME that involved a grumpy monk and a wooden stick. A friend’s Dutch pancakes – which he often makes for our families when we have ski weekends together – are in the book, as is the delicious pizza Adam and I ate nearly daily while traveling in Amalfi. From the food, to the vistas in Italy, to the painting elephants in Thailand, to the surfing in Hawaii, nearly every setting I wrote about I experienced first hand. Which I believe – hope – will make it more authentic and compelling for the reader.

But I don’t just draw inspiration from those in my immediate circle — I pull quirks, stories, and observations about strangers into my writing ALL.THE.TIME. In fact, I think half the time I spend in coffee shops {begin air quotes} WRITING {end air quotes} is about people watching. So if you happen to be having a coffee with a friend in a Starbucks in my ‘hood, watch out – you may find yourself in one of my next stories.

Personally, I love reading books and wondering which parts of the protagonist have been pulled directly from the author’s life (there’s also some of me in my protagonist, Tegan), and how he or she used those to form such a well-rounded and layered character. Because without those real-life injections, characters can end up feeling one-dimensional and flat, and who wants to read 300+ pages of that?

It’s truly one of my favourite parts of being an author – the research and brainstorming that goes into creating characters that feel real. It’s fun, and in many ways feels nothing like work – which is the best kind of work, don’t you agree?

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Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.

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