I once attended a book club where a subplot of the novel explored the stress erectile dysfunction put on a marriage. The author had done a fantastic job, so fantastic in fact, everyone was convinced he’d written from experience. As the only fiction writer in the room, I jumped to his defense. “It was a plot tactic,” I argued.
They shook their heads, certain. “A man wouldn’t know how it’d make a woman feel unless he had analyzed it in marriage counseling.”
Oh no, now the author’s marriage was at stake. “Blogs,” I suggested. “You’d be amazed what people put out there.”
“About erectile dysfunction?”
I convinced no one and left alarmed. My book had just sold. In eighteen months, readers would have access to the conflict and vices I’d imbed in my characters. They too might associate the family dysfunction I’d imagined with what went down at my house.
Over the next twenty-four hours I reasoned my way out of panic. First, there’s dysfunction behind everyone’s closed door—that I’m screwed up in different ways than I screwed up my characters is rather a moot point. Second, who the hell am I that anyone will hem and haw over my backstory? Third, if a book club is kind enough to pick I LIKED MY LIFE, it can dissect it however it damn well pleases. It’s a pretty sweet problem, really: an entire group of people curious about your sex life. Yes please.
Clarity regained, I got back to writing.