Inside the Mind of a Writer

“The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them. Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented,” writer Milan Kundera once said and it got me thinking about the people us writers birth in our texts.We breathe; we think and live in the skin of our characters. If a writer does not feel what their character feels, then they are not good writers. So where do our characters come from?  Where do these weird and wonderful figments of imagination spring from?  Many writers project their own experiences and personality in their characters. Characters can show a glimpse of the writer’s soul, which might have otherwise remained hidden. Through our characters we reveal inner forgotten memories or longings.

What about characters who are like rebellious children? These characters are everything we as writers are not. Every writer has that once character who strays from the planned plot and becomes a lucid entity, trotting ahead and leaving the writer miles behind. These are the characters that slay dragons, break rules and melt chains.

“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” William Faulkner  said.

So where did my own heroine, twelve-year-old Marie Perrin stem from and what have I learnt from her? I get inspiration for writing at all ungodly hours – usually after 2AM. Some ideas quickly come and vanish even quicker. In my opinion, this is what separates a quality idea from a sub-par one.  A story you must write will not leave your mind. It will gnaw you and brew, until you put ten to paper and then the story will simply pour out.

For me, it all started with the crazy idea of two children being vermin exterminator’s in 1600s Europe.  Since then it took shape into a story of an audacious girl who is sent out of home to apprentice for a rat-catcher. She must navigate through poverty and alter her identity to suit her settings and she must be strong and persevere during a contagion outbreak which destroys her hometown. In addition, she must be reunited with her twin brother, help the people she despised and find and lose love, only to find love again.

Through creating Marie Perrin, I have observes female strength and confirmed the idea that we all seek home and belonging, whether we are a famished girl or gnarly rat-catcher. She has taught me to never give up and never be silent in the face of injustice. In a weird way, she’s my friend and my child.

In the words of William S. Burroughs,  “my characters are quite as real to me as so-called real people; which is one reason why I’m not subject to what is known as loneliness. I have plenty of company.”

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