Thursday, March 22, 2012

Send in the Clones

by Allison Pang

Reading the articles this week has made it pretty clear that most of us do tend to put a fair amount of ourselves into our characters.

Maybe it's that write what you know thing? After all, we should know ourselves best, so I suppose it makes sense. I think it's also easier to claim that MCs are Mary-Sue's or self-inserts a lot of the time, especially in the UF or PNR genre, simply because they're often written in first person. It can be hard to separate the author from the voice of the character.

(At least so I've noticed from certain co-workers who won't quite look me in the eye these days. Guess all that late night dream sex I'm having with daemons is a bit much for people to take.)

That being said, most of my characters have some bit of me stuffed inside - Phineas is my obnoxious side, Brystion is my arrogance, Moira is my uncertainty, Robert is my bravado, Charlie is my loyalty, Talivar is my  faith.

Melanie and Abby are a bit more complicated. In a lot of ways, Abby is very much me and how I see myself. Melanie is who I'd like to be. (Minus the whole soul-belongs-to-the-devil thing. It's not an exact science, mind.) And by that, I mean 1) She's a super-talented musician, 2) She's horrendously popular 3) She's got a bit of arrogance to her, but also an overall sweetness that just tends to attract people.

Or at least, that's what it looks like on the surface. If you follow along with the books, you know she has a fair number of her own demons to face down, so perfection from a distance, perhaps.

And then there's Abby.

When I started writing A Brush of Darkness, much of it was an exercise in catharsis. My mother passed  away in 2002 of a horrendous form of lung cancer - and I've never really gotten over that. I couldn't even bring myself to accept it or go through the grieving process, because in the back of my mind that meant I was admitting she was gone.

So I think I put so much of myself into Abby because writing about her own denial was my way of coping.

As similarities go, we have a lot.

Abby: Ballerina dancer (or former) - lost her career due to a car accident that took her mother's life and left her physically disabled with a gimpy leg, seizures and a metal plate in her head.

Me: I took a year of ballet in 6th grade, but never actually wanted to be a dancer. I was a track star of sorts in high school though and had an accident in an event that left my right leg pretty messed up. (Abby's issues are on her left side.)  It's hyperextended and atrophied and I walk with a limp, though I hide it pretty well most of the time. Add that to my long list of physical issues and you can see why I wanted a heroine with the same sorts of challenges.

Abby: Has nightmares about sharks

Me: Yes. Totally.

Abby:  Her mother listened to Tom Jones

Me: My mother listened to the Beatles, but I dig TJ, so it sorta made sense at the time.

Abby: Has an odd relationship with bacon.

Me: Yes.

Abby: Has an enchanted iPod with an infinite number of songs.

Me: I wish. I do have nearly 17k on mine though, so that's not too bad...

Abby: Is/was a gamer.

Me: Duh.

There are plenty more - mostly small things, though you might not pick up on them unless you really know me.

On the other hand - I don't have a small pervy unicorn living in my underwear drawer. I'm not sleeping with elven princes or deamons, either. (Though I probably would have grabbed the opportunity, given the chance.)

I'm not sure what all that stuff is after the song, but Clonie seems apt...


  1. Limpers of the world unite! And actually that's part of the reason why I can relate to Abby. The whole car accident / messed up leg thing speaks to me. (Although I was alone in my car - thank goodness.)

    1. Yeah - even aside from the self-insertion thing, I really did want to write a character who wasn't physically perfect, but whose flaws weren't always outwardly evident.

  2. Color me one of those who gets ALL those small things! ;-)

    1. Ha ha, is that good or bad? LOL

    2. Depends on how many drinks you want to buy me

  3. Abby vs Allison ... not hard to how she is very much a reflection of you.

    Interesting, though, to see with which parts of your personality you imbued your secondary characters. I'm now rethinking Talivar's motivation(s).

    1. Well, I'm pretty sure he's got my martyr complex too, but I figured I'd focus on the good. LOL

  4. Really loved reading this write-up! Such a good point, the catharsis thing! I think we all do it, because things in a book have to be "in play" to us on some level. Who would spend all those months dwelling on something really settled?