This is not the story of my life. I am not Liz Michaels, not a publishing executive, not wealthy, not blond and slender (although at times in my life I have been both), and my mother is alive and well at ninety-one. She would never kill herself because some man abandoned her.
I say “no” and “yes” because every writing is in some sense autobiographical. Writers write from their life experiences, observations, and research. All of that is a part of them. When writers write, characters become real and take on some aspect of the writer, even the negative aspects. Am I a narcissist like Addison Payne? I hope not, but in creating him, I had to think like him. We all have a shadow side to us according to Carl Jung. I guess the potential for anything is within each of us. One of the perks of writing is that through your characters, you get to be really, really bad, wonderfully attractive, incredibly loving, delightfully quirky—well, you get the idea. Of course observing behavior and researching adds to the depth of our creations.
I had fun creating these people, developing their unique personalities. I especially enjoyed Rose Santello, Jim Shannon’s tough detective partner; Virgil Earp, the not-so-honest, working-class guy who comes to Emily Miner’s rescue (Virgil became more interesting to me when he added Earp to his name); Eunice Payne who is so elitist you want to smack her; and Mrs. Santorini, Santello’s grandmother, who speaks broken English but whose practical, old world wisdom encourages Shannon to move forward. Perhaps my favorite is Miriam Feinstein Kernan. Despite her difficult past, she is one commanding, yet compassionate, woman. She reminds me a little of Sunny Fader, another writer friend of mine. Not all of them are based on people I know, but I’ve taken characteristics of people I’ve known, seen in films, read about, or met casually. Despite this, they are all fictional characters; no character is an actual representation of any one person. It’s the richness of the writer’s experience and knowledge that informs a story and its characters, and this is why I say that every writing is somewhat autobiographical.