Knocked out another Agatha Christie last night, Murder in Mesopotamia, and picked up two more. M in M features Hercule Poirot, who happens to be journeying through Iraq on his way toward a journey on the Orient Express when a the killing of an archaeologist’s wife draws him from his path.
Although the book barely focused on the local geography, customs, or specifics of the dig, I believe the characters of archaeologist and his wife were based on the couple who introduced Christie to her second husband.
How often, I wonder, do authors manage to write characters who aren’t based on people they know? I struggle with this in the writing I do. I borrow tics and traits, mixing and matching, hoping like mad that I’m not revealing more about myself, and my feelings about other people, than I mean to reveal.
I’ve read books by people I know, with characters clearly drawn to at least resemble mutual friends, yet the authors insist the characters are cut from whole cloth. Sad that legal considerations probably come into play – just the threat of legal action causes a great deal of self-censorship, no doubt.
Someone my mom knows “put her kids through private school,” as my mom describes it, writing Harlequin romance novels. She used my father’s name for a character, a ruthless real estate mogul who, apart from the name, had relatively little in common with my dad. Knowing she used his name got me to read the book. Don’t think I haven’t thought about that strategy for upping my blog readership …