December 19th, 2008

(no subject)

I was in the grocery store the other day and I bumped into an old neighbor of mine. He's a super nice man, a retired minister.  We were chatting and he asked when the release date for my book was and I told him it was August 09. he said that he couldn't wait to pick it up and read it. I chuckled and said, well, you know, it's teen fiction. Kind of chick lit fiction, so you're not exactly the target audience.  He laughed and said he'd read anything I wrote and while I was thanking him he mumbled something about reading about my life. No, I said, it's not a memoir it's fiction. At which point he says, with some authority, that all first novels are highly autobiographical. This stopped me in my tracks a bit and I started to wonder, are people going to be assuming that my main character is me?? Because I can assure you, she is not. So I went on to explain to my neighbor that, no, this story was in no way autobiographical. For one, both my parents are alive (thank God!) I never lived in NYC, I was never raised by a wealthy aunt. The only shred of the story that might be construed as somewhat true is that the idea of the story came from a true phone call I got. But that's for another post. So my neighbor patted me on the shoulder and resumed his shopping but somehow I don't think I convinced him.  Then, two nights later, I was at dinner with my old friend and we were talking books and she made a comment about a popular novel and said, I wonder how much of her writing she takes from her real life.  So this really got me thinking about what goes through people's minds as they read a novel.  I can say this: while the premise and plot of Lipstick Apology is all fiction, I guess their are some central qualities of my main character that I strongly identify with.  Her struggle to build new friends and family when hers are no longer around.  Her quest to understand people's true intentions. Her journey toward learning to forgive, whether it's a school prank or a life altering mistake.  Perhaps the core of Emily is similar to me in some ways, but her story is purely fabricated.  Plus, anyone who knows my tendency toward ponytails knows I'm not surrounded by celebrity hairstylists like Emily is.