A few weeks ago I participated in a book tour for A Lighter Shade of Grey by Devon Pearse. You can find my review here. When I read on the back cover that ths story is semi-autobiographical, I became curious about how she drew the distinction between what is true from her life and what is fiction. She is gracious enough to answer my question with a guest post. Here is what she had to say:
When I first started writing A Lighter Shade of Gray, I really wasn't concerned with making any distinctions between my personal story (the true part) and what I was writing as fiction. I knew that there would be certain aspects of my life that I would obviously prefer to keep private, and I spoke with my family and friends a lot concerning what things they would be comfortable with, or uncomfortable with, being put into a novel. Everyone's support and encouragement went beyond what I had imagined, so that made it easier.
Of course, I also wanted to create an interesting plot (or several!) around my reality, and so I began to consider what might have happened if my friend hadn't only talked about doing away with that car, but had actually gone ahead and done it. And then, what if that car just happened to have a secret passenger when it went into that lake? So, as you can see, I'm hinting a little at where that idea came from.
One thing I've always wanted to make clear is that the character of Nina is based on a friend of mine from elementary school. Sadly, she was shot and killed on her birthday, in a very similar manner to what I wrote in the book. The rest of the revenge-oriented plot line revolves around the desire we've always had for true justice to be done for my friend, and getting to write it was very cathartic.
Something I get asked quite frequently is whether or not the character of Drew is based on a real person. He's actually based on several guys who each meant something special to me, and those emotional scenes that seem to get to everyone came straight from the heart.
Most of the things about my childhood and family life are based in reality, and out of deference to the one request made by my father, that's all I'm going to say about it!
Once the writing started to flow, I found it was surprisingly easy to marry reality and fiction, and it was an interesting realization that the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction" is quite often more accurate than one might think. I love to create characters and stories for them, and it was all the more entertaining to be weaving all those threads around my own life. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in writing, especially if they're looking for a practice exercise. After all, what characters do you know better than yourself, your friends and family?