Do I write about people I know? Do I put people I know in my stories? These are questions that seem to creep up when people find out that I write and I’m not sure if its caused by fear or narcissism.
The Short answer, no. Long answer, kinda, but not in the way you think. I will never transplant an entire person into written form, not even close. It would be discourteous and disingenuous of me to do so.
First of all, I’m not too fond of people, there isn’t anyone I like enough to immortalise in fiction. I don’t like a lot of my characters, they are not always nice people, so while they have that in common with some of the people I find out and about in the world, they will not end up in my work. Were I ever to be daft enough to do so I would never hear the end of it. I do not treat my characters well for a start, and my perception of you may be less than stellar. It is simply far too much hassle to deal with.
Secondly it honestly feels like cheating. It feels false. I am telling a story that I have pulled from my own imagination, and it is something that I will have worked over for a while. There is always so much more work done than what is seen when the story is posted. Research and background and worldbuilding all take up a lot of time and effort. To just plonk in a whole person from my life feels wrong. I am no longer telling a story pulled from my imagination, as it now contains Bob who I know from yoga class. Those who know me personally will know there is no Bob or yoga class, that was a carefully constructed veil to protect everyone’s identity.
What I do, however, is I will steal traits from people. They will not be character defining traits, Bob from yoga class has a scar over one eye and a thick welsh accent for example. That is something I wouldn’t touch, it’s too much a part of Bob. I will take a shrug, the way somebody taps their fingers, how they greet someone. Little things. Little things that when added together with the characters in my mind help create a whole. It is art imitating life. I do this for people I pass in the street, people I meet at work, people I will never see again. They colour my life briefly, a flash, and things will just stay with me. So into the mixing pot it goes.
Needless to say all creations, creatures, arseholes and heroes are works of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons alive or dead is coincidence.
How do you feel about putting people you know in your work. Let me know in the comments.