I've writeen 5 books so far (Oreos with Chai, Desi Divas, Oreos with Chai (complete rewrite), and How to Salsa in a Sari). The first four were adult novels, and the last one a YA. Now the central heroine for all 5 of these stories was an average looking, studious brunette with a great job (in the case of the YA, excellent grades), excellent friends, no love life to speak of, and major family issues.
Hmm...who does this sound like (barring the major family issues)? Most of my main characters so far have been strange versions of me. Book-smart, homebodies with average lives. Is this normal? My characters have been born in every major junction in my life and I see so many shades of myself in each of them.
Maya in Oreos with Chai was written when I was just about to be married. The whole story is about a girl who can't seem to commit and is terrified of marriage. In the end she realizes settling with one person isn't so bad.
Sejal in Desi Divas is about a girl who idealizes marriage and wants some change in her life. In the end she realizes that the guy isn't going to make all her problems go away. I was newly married, discovering life isn't all perfect, and terribly homesick during that period in my life.
Maya in Oreos with Chai II was about a girl who was avoiding marriage in a major way in spite of pressure from her parents to give up her career and focus on the marriage. In the end she realizes that just a career doesn't make a person happy. I was at a major crossroads in my career at the time.
Malini in Salsa in a Sari is about a girl who is fiercly possessive about her mother and is afraid of the new life they are moving toward. I had just started my new job and was wondering what the future was holding.
I have a feeling I know why I have so much trouble with characterization. Since all of my heroines are versions of me, I feel that they are fleshed out people. After all, I know myself. But I don't think their personality comes across on paper the way it does in my head.
The new heroine of my next book THE SARI SISTERHOOD, Zara, is calling for me to write her. She is street-smart, take-charge, and not afraid of using her sexuality to get her way. She doesn't love to read, she doesn't feel sorry for herself when things go wrong, and she sure as hell doesn't stay at home on a Sunday night with a cup of tea and a novel. She's the type of girl who will be at a rave all night, at work at 6 am the next day and drinks her coffee black.
For those of you who watched ALIAS, I have a vision of a young Irina Derevko (Syndey Bristow's mother, BY FAR the best character on the show) as Zara Taylor. Smart, sexy, cunning, and a very gray character. Nothing black or white about her. Totally the opposite of Dona Sarkar.
Zara is someone I admire the qualities of, but know I can never pull it off. Aspiring to be my heroine...this might actually be the secret to getting this book to be my best yet :)
What about you guys. Are you characters versions of you? Or are they what you wish you could be?