Friday 13 December 2013

Garrett Addison: Christmas For Authors

Do you really want your favourite author over for dinner?

Have you ever wondered where your favourite author got his/her ideas from? Hands up if you don't believe those authors who attribute their stories wholly to a fertile imagination.

I'm not suggesting that imagination isn't important and necessary, more in some stories than others. JK Rowling is almost certainly of 'muggle' origins and so I have to assume that all of the Happy Potter universe is entirely of her creation. But what I find really interesting is where imagination ends and experience starts to kick-in to seed a great story. That inspiration has to come from somewhere and of late I've become obsessed with where the line between imagination and reality lies.

I have to stress that this interest is a very recent development. I've read books about serial killers and never thought ill of the mild mannered family man who wrote the stories, and never considered that he/she might have a dark side. As a fan of Lee Child's 'Reacher' stories, I never once thought that Lee must be a dark and broody bastard at heart. And I never thought to suggest all police line-ups should include an author or two on the basis that statistically it seems very likely that they are implicated in something nasty.

All that changed since I released my second book, 'The Traveller'. My first novel featured dubious good guys, beaten women, a sociopathic refugee and other assorted characters, and no-one ever suggested that I had a dark side, or that any particular aspect of the story was based on truth or my own life, which is probably just as well. However, since the 'The Traveller' I'm continually being challenged. Either the main character is me, his escapades reflect my experiences, the evil boss must be someone I know, or the entire story is a thinly veiled personal account, and I don't rightly know why. So why is it that a simple story of an ordinary guy taking a walk on the wild side and pursuing a little revenge has me fielding questioning looks from readers (and my wife), but I got away with writing about questionable characters and no-one doubted me.

Don't get me wrong, I still look in the mirror with a clear conscience, but while I don't doubt myself, I have become skeptical as to the inspiration of other authors. If I read about a serial rapist, a terrorist plot or a nice guy with penchant for pet butchery, should I be congratulating the source of a fertile imagination or think that the author should be scrutinised and his manuscripts taken into evidence.

So where's the line? Where's the line between what people will accept as story and what people will inevitably believe to be rooted in truth? In light of the fact that my next novel is likely to be a gruesome revenge story, any and all assistance to help me not be marginalised in society would be much appreciated.

One last thought and something which I'm happy to share as a lesson learned. First person accounts definitely give stories an intimate and personal feel and don't help an author stave off misconceptions that there must be a good measure of truth in the story. I can say this from experience. Write a first person story of a repressed, vengeful, philandering, family man, like 'The Traveller', and your wife especially won't believe your claims that the story is absolutely not an autobiography, and you are very likely to spend a number of nights sleeping on the couch.

The Traveller

The Traveller

Sometimes to get the measure of your life you just need a break from being yourself.

A family man struggling in his pursuit of a work/life balance embarks on yet another trip at the whims of his tyrannical bitch of a boss. But on this trip he is a world apart from his usual self. Suddenly confident, capable and unafraid of his manager, reclaiming his life becomes less about corporate advancement and satisfying his ego than outright revenge on his boss. With nothing but success in his wake and seemingly limitless potential at his disposal, being coerced to work with his nemesis in a remote corner of the world provides the opportunity for not just a confrontation, but a final solution to what he sees as the bane of his life. Succeed or fail, either way this trip will be the making of him or the end of him.

Sometimes to get the measure of your life you just need a break from being yourself... because nothing lasts forever.

The Traveller is available now in eBook and Paperback:

The Traveller

About Garrett Addison

Garrett is forty something, Australian, and also a geek, husband, father and novelist. He grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and has been lucky enough to live in or visit most of Australia and much of the world. He now lives in Melbourne with his family. Not averse to change, thus far, he has been an Army officer, software consultant and author. But this is just the beginning. 'The Traveller' is his second novel.

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