Mark Terry

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do You Want To Date My Avatar?

March 17, 2010

Derek Stillwater, the hero of my current thriller series, is a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry, a former Special Forces soldier (with a final rank of Colonel, before he "retired"). He's worked for the CIA, the military, the UN, with the FBI, and currently for the Department of Homeland Security. He's into kayaking and martial arts. He grew up around the world because his parents were missionary doctors. He has a brother who lives in Congo and works for Doctors Without Borders. He's an action hero.

I'm not. (Although I have a degree in microbiology, am into kayaking and martial arts, among other things).

When one of my first books came out, Catfish Guru, a woman asked me what the main character looked like, apparently fishing to see if he was good looking enough to have a fling with (I kid you not). I suspect people do this sort of thing all the time. It may be the book-to-film-to-imagination thing going on. Does Spenser look like Robert Urich, Joe Montegna, or the movie star of your imagination?

When you read a first-person narrative, do you become the narrator?

Even in a third-person narrative? Is that part of your transference? Do you become Alex Cross, Kinsey Millhone, VI Warshawski, Tres Navarre, Harry Potter, Lucas Davenport, Steve Carella, a member of Sigma Force, or whatever? (Or whomever?)

I know that sometimes people expect the author to be a little bit like the characters they write about. (Barry Eisler, anyone?) That can feel a little bit disconcerting to the author, certainly, although is it disappointing to the reader that the author is a middle-aged bald guy who battles his weight instead of a, er, slightly younger, more physically fit action hero whose physical description is intentionally kept to a minimum in the books? (Hey, I AM physically fit).


What do you think?


Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I agree. I was stalked after Spanish Disco came out . . . someone who apparently confused ME with HER.

I have a personality like a lot of my first-person narrators . . . So I could see it being a little confusing. But I come with FOUR kids, and a boatload of eccentricities.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

One rationale for my belief (despite my promotion) that most authors are better off read than seen. Although I suppose I could argue that if you want to find out just how much like Derek I am, you can endanger me or my family and see just how difficult I can be.

1:06 PM  
Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

Hmmm ... I write mostly kids, so maybe it doesn't apply. Anyway, when I was 13, I was definitely the kind of kid I write about. None of them have been, um, arrested.

4:55 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I have a funny story I like to tell when this comes up. After my husband read a particularly harrowing torture scene (I love writing me torture scenes) he turned to me, after knowing me since I was 19, and said, "Who ARE you?"

I have a fan who has definitely confused me with my characters, though I write mostly men. Part of it is my online presence, which isn't really a lie, but might come off sometimes as a bit romantic as I don't include a lot of boring stuff like eating chips for lunch or going to the dentist. I am an entertainer, so I think I do, like other entertainers, feel some responsibility (and right) to maintain a mild illusion. If it sells books, then cool.

11:23 AM  

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