As writers, we pour a little of ourselves into every character that we write. The experiences that have shaped us sometimes rear their heads to shape our characters’ lives, too. It’s always been hardest for me to write my own identity and experiences into a book. If it starts to feel too personal, I get afraid and shy away. But, over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is for these issues to be shown in books.
I’m not talking about little things I have in common with a character, like being clumsy. I’m talking about the marginalized aspects of human identity like gender, sexuality, and mental illness. Here is a list of books that written in which I’ve used my own experiences to add realism to the story.
Ladies of Passion
(in chronological order)
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Violet Wellesley suffers from debilitating anxiety, especially when she’s in crowds. She gets anxiety attacks which sometimes lead to fainting spells. My anxiety isn’t as bad as hers, but I used my experiences with anxiety attacks to bring an authenticity to her story.
Ladies of Passion, Book One.
Rose Wellesley, like me, has a mostly cheerful outlook on life. Like me, she suffers from depression. I don’t delve a lot into dark territory in my books because I don’t read dark. Dark triggers me. So, like I try to live my life, my books are upbeat and happy, including this one. However, in this book, I wanted to show that while a fit of depression can have triggers, sometimes it rears its ugly head for no reason. Rose’s depression, although mentioned once or twice in the book, only comes into play in one scene toward the end. I used it to show her support systems and illustrate that although her friends might feel useless when she is depressed, just the fact that they are there for her means a lot.
Ladies of Passion, Book Two.
Francine Annesley is the first character I’ve written on the asexual spectrum. She is demisexual and grayromantic. She falls for her best friend and it just makes me melt. She is my favourite character because her book is like seeing myself find a happily ever after. The book does contain a sex scene that blossoms from a deep emotional connection between them, so if you are sex-repulsed, beware.
Ladies of Passion, Book Three.
Mary Babington-Smith is bisexual, but she doesn’t want to be attracted to men. After the death of my husband and abuser, I felt the same way. I wanted to focus on the part of myself attracted to women, but of course life doesn’t work that way. Mary also falls for her best friend, whereas I fell for a time for a good friend who made me feel safe and appreciated and showed me that not all men are abusers. I paired Mary with a man because she is aggressively feminist, and I wanted to show that she can love a man and be a feminist without sacrificing a part of herself.