Letter to a friend…

Hey, thanks so much for asking me about the particular book I’m working on during your latest visit. You were helpful to me with information about kinds of jobs in the area. From types of workers I build characters. One I’m remembering especially is ski slopes and trails-grooming. Throughout these writings I have sought out information on how particular jobs are performed. Jobs provide types for invention. In other words, what role in the community does a character play? I start there and don’t use real people as characters in books for a couple reasons. I do, however, use a piece here and there of someone’s real-life experience, on-the-job or off. It’s kind of like quilting. You take snippets from various pieces of cloth and stitch them into an attractive design. I’m sure, of course, that people will look at certain incidents and say, Ah ha, I know who this character is in real life. But that would not be true in the case of my inventive writing.

Reasons why not to use real people: Individuals are made by God in his image. To use them is to ”use” them. Meaning to “debase” them. The second reason not to do so —it is not creative enough, and would prove tedious and boring in a way that God is certainly not bored with creating his people/persons. Part of being made in the image of God is what J.R.R. Tolkien calls sub-creating  In other words, he made us in part to be many creators as he is the Great Creator. Dorothy L. Sayers writes about this in her The Mind Of The Maker.

In addition to mountainous rural settings, I have written fiction set in alternate cityscapes, using various types of professions and jobs to help me build metropolitan fictional characters. When I’m writing nonfiction books, of course, any people who appear in them are the real thing. These include the books of Maine Metaphor. The latest of which is Maine In Winter.

Well thanks again for asking. And this was just a bit more, in case you’re interested.