Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writing About People in Your Family

Do you ever find yourself basing characters on family members? Do you worry that they might recognize themselves and not be happy about how you perceive them? I must admit I'm guilty of this from time to time.
I use family names often. It's a way to honor the family member, I think, and fun for them to see their names. In my soon-to-be-released novel, Standing on Stolen Ground, from Secret Cravings Publishing, (July 18th release date :) my novel is based on family stories. My mother's family is from the Shenandoah Mountains, an absolutely beautiful place that inspires me to try to capture some of its beauty in my writing. The characters in my story are almost all loosely based on real people, from stories my mother told me about her family and from my own research into this really interesting group of people.
How does a writer tell these exciting, fascinating stories without offending anyone or invading their privacy? Of course, in my case, my story is based in 1934, so most of these people are long gone. Their relatives may or may not even know these stories, since they're based on my mother's memories. Of course, I changed the last names (maybe thinly veiled would be more accurate)and some of the stories are mixed up among the generations. For example, something that may have happened to my grandmother is now a part of my great grandmother's life. Does that help or make it worse? Hmmmm...
Anyway it was great fun to put together all these various stories into a fictional framework.
What do you do? Do you ever write about family? Leave me a comment and let me know how you handle it.

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