Writing non fiction and writing fiction are two very different activities. When I was writing my non fiction book, there was lots of research to do. Facts need to be correct and verified. Information needs to be put together without seeming like a boring lecture. That’s a challenge in itself. But when I started writing my fiction books, I realised how easy it is to cross the thin line between fact and fiction. In other words, how much of my own life and thoughts do I want to share with my reader? My protagonists all have some of me in them; either in the way they talk or behave. Maybe a shared habit. Some shared experiences. Even the surrounding characters are some way linked to my reality. They may not all be based on people I know but most of them contain fragments from people I have come across in my lifetime. Personality traits, likes, dislikes, lifestyle.
I was recently telling some author friends how I like to make up fiction inspired by my own wishes and dreams. For example, when I wrote My Singapore Fling, the 30+ year old female protagonist Dipa, was doing something that I wished I had done – have a no strings attached fling. Then when I wrote my latest book, The Cheesecake Thief & Other Stories, it was during a time that I was missing my favourite aunt. I don’t have any siblings of my own but have spent a lot of time with my mother and her sisters and like to imagine how they would talk and act during their shared childhood.
I believe that some authors are good at keeping a divide between their personal and writing lives. Unfortunately, the two aspects overlap in my case. I asked myself last night if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Well, I think it is a good thing because I get to write out my feelings and feel lighter. Plus, my readers find a high degree of empathy in my stories and characters with the reality immersed in them.
What do you think?