I've spent my first free Tuesday night in 6 months at the library (one week after the show and I'm already missing the regular rehearsals!). Author Aline Templeton (a crime writer I'm adding to my watch list after tonight) spent an hour with us and I thoroughly enjoyed the session.
The funniest point was actually two minutes before she was introduced, when a member of the audience turned to her at the coffee table and said "So, the person who's coming tonight - who's she then?" Even I recognised her from the dozen posters hanging around the place! What made it funnier was the fact he was married to the librarian who had organised the event...
She made a lovely remark at the start, along the lines of "I knew I was a writer. It's just the publishers didn't". A lot of what she said rang true with me and my own writing experiences over the past few months. Things like: do your research - but know more than you tell. Things like: "I start with an ending in mind but I'm probably wrong".
When the floor was opened for questions, someone asked about character names. I sat there in shock as she said almost exactly what I have John Jones saying in his magazine interview (somewhere around Chapter 23). Names are intensely personal and an author/actor can't help but ascribe personalities and traits related to someone they know with that name.
Then, after a comment she made about criminals being inherently stupid (with the stories to back it up - my favourite was the bank robber who realised the teller he was holding up with a sawn-off shotgun was scared, lifted his mask and said "It's OK, it's only me"), a member of the audience asked if characters were ever a bit Jekyll & Hyde....my jaw was scraping the fuzzy felt floor tiles. Again, in the same magazine article, John describes his mother as a little like Jekyll & Hyde.
But then Aline went on to say that some people, with mental issues, a bit like Asperger's, can be like that....I nearly put my hand up and said "Like me, then?". She did go on to say that characters in books are simpler than people in real life; that real people are simply too complex to put in novels (could explain why my own personality is spread across virtually every character in the book!). In general, people are normal and simple. The trick with writing is to put the character into a situation that pushes their button which makes them act in an interesting way. All books are about conflict....
All in all - an enjoyable night out. And good to know that I'm doing things pretty much the same way as a woman with a dozen books to her name. And like her, I think I've found my niche in mental health. She said that she tried writing romantic fiction but "somehow people kept ending up dead". I know how she feels....I keep writing characters who end up mentally flawed. Oh well, stick to what you know!!