It’s been discussed that Jane Austen based various characters in her novels after people she knew personally. Mainstream fiction author Syrie James also incorporates people she knows into her novels, including her newest novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Today the author shares three books in which she weaves people from her own life into her prose and how this practice helps shape her stories:
For my first novel, Songbird (I've just released a newly revised edition in both print and e-book versions) I based many aspects of the handsome and romantic hero, Kyle Harrison, on my husband Bill. I even included one scene that came almost straight from life — the moment when Desiree realizes that Kyle is colorblind. The conflict of that story was inspired by my relationship with Bill in the early stage of our romance. Like the characters in the book, Bill and I had a whirlwind courtship, but we lived in different cities and were faced with the challenges of a long-distance relationship. I'll never forget how devastated I was each time he or I had to get on a plane and leave — and I put that pain and heartbreak into the novel — as well as its happy ending! (Bill and I have been married now for thirty-seven wonderful years, and I am grateful for every minute.)
I based yet another heroic character on my husband. I was halfway through the first draft of my novel Dracula, My Love, and I'd fallen madly in love with my gorgeous, sexy, charismatic Dracula. In comparison, Mina Harker's husband Jonathan Harker seemed bland and unappealing. It was important to me and the story that Mina be torn between these two men — so I realized I had to something to make Jonathan more worthy. To accomplish that, I rewrote it and gave Jonathan all of my husband's best attributes. It seems to have worked, because readers have admitted they so loved both of the men in Mina's life, they couldn't decide who they wanted her to end up with!
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