25 June 2016

Damn Right, there's ME in my Characters!

Several times a year we do these reading and signing events.  And people ask you a pile of questions about your books.  Most are repeat queries that you’ve heard a dozen times before.  So you get pretty good at answering them.

Lately, I was asked a question that I didn’t have a pat answer to.  In fact, it really made me think.

“Do you make up all your characters, or do you put some of yourself in them?”

I’d like to say that every character I write comes completely from my imagination.  For the most part, they do.  I can honestly say that I have never seen a real person who matches the physical description of any of my characters.  (Not that I would mind meeting Pete.  But I digress…)

Back to the question:  are there bits of myself in my protagonists? 

PROOF NO. 1 (others will follow in later posts)

“I am SO not a salad girl.”

Some people say this is one of the funniest lines in my screwball mob comedy, THE GODDAUGHTER.  It is spoken by Gina Galla, goddaughter to the mob boss in Hamilton, the industrial city in Canada near Buffalo, also known as The Hammer.  Gina is a curvy girl.  She says this line to her new guy Pete, as a kind of warning.   And then she proceeds to tell him she wants a steak, medium rare, with a baked potato and a side of mushrooms.

Apparently, that’s me.  So say my kids, spouse, and everyone else in the family.

Eat a meal of salad?  Are you kidding me?  When there is pasta, fresh panno and cannoli about?  (I’ve come to the conclusion that women who remain slim past the age of fifty must actually like salad.  Yes, it’s an astonishing fact.  For some people, eating raw green weeds is not a punishment. )

Not me.  I’m Italian, just like my protagonist.  We know our food.  Ever been to an Italian wedding?  First, you load up with appetizers and wine, or Campari with Orange Juice if you’re lucky.  When you are too stuffed to stand  up anymore (why did you wear three inch heals?  Honestly you do this every time…) you sit down, kerplunk.  Bring on the antipasto.  Meat, olives, marinated veggies, breadsticks, yum.  Melon with prosciutto.  Bread with olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip.  White wine.   

Then comes the pasta al olio.  Sublime.  Carbs are important fuel, right?  And I’m gonna need that fuel to get through the main course, because it’s going to be roast chicken, veal parmesan, osso buco, risotto, polenta, stuffed artichokes (yum), more bread, red wine.

Ever notice that salad is served after the main course in an Italian meal?  Good reason for that.  We aren’t stupid.  Hopefully, you will have no room left for it.

So yes, my protagonist Gina shares an important trait with me.  She likes meat, dammit.

So you can be a bunny and eat salad all you like.  Bunnies are cute and harmless.

But Gina and I are more like frontier wolves.   Try making us live on salad, and see how harmless we will be.

Which is what you might expect from a mob goddaughter from The Hammer.

Do you find bits of yourself sneaking into your fiction?  Tell us here, in the comments.

Melodie Campbell writes the award-winning Goddaughter mob comedy series, starting with The Goddaughter which happens to be on sale now for $2.50.  Buy it.  It's an offer you can't refuse. 
P.S.  My maiden name was 'Offer.'  No joke.  Although I've heard a few in my time.


  1. Very funny, Melodie. I tried going vegetarian once, but my girlfriend was such a carnivore that I have it up. Thank God.

    I look forward to further evidence.

  2. Leigh, when writing this, I was shocked to discover how much 'write what you know' really does appear in our work. Also, when I write a character I really like, I want them to like the things that I do. hmmm... have to watch out for that when I start a new series. Don't want to get predictable.

  3. Well, I'm not a complete carnivore, but I hate salad. I like wine. I don't drink red beer the way Grant does, but some of Linda's (ahem) interesting past has come from experience...

  4. Another gal who hates salad! Eve, you are the best :) Luckily, this is a crime blog, so readers can relax: I won't be looking into my hot fantasy books to see where there might be comparisons. 'Ahem,' as you say.

  5. Totally unfair to read your post about Italian food when I am fasting for annual blood work, Melodie! Now I'm not just hungry, I'm ravenous, and woe to the first burger-server I see after the ritual exsanguination! To answer your question, my heroes always have some of me in their psyches, at least. My latest one IS me, though, if my life had different timing and situations. I tell readers that the words that come out of his mouth are the words I would say under the same circumstances. My next hero is a heroine, and a little bit of me, with a nicer...smile.

  6. Grin - sorry about those food references, Tim! Now, that's interesting re your heroine. I wonder if the men in my adventures are a) some form of my dream man or b) who I expect I would be if I were a man? Now there's a subject for another post. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Whenever you read any snarky/funny thoughts or comments by my characters, that's me all the way.

    As to your not-a-salad-girl, you and I would get along like gangbusters.

  8. I always knew that, Barb :) I love your snarky character thoughts.

  9. Your post is hilarious, Melodie, and I think it says something very true: Even when we consciously set out to create protagonists very unlike us, some of our tastes and attitudes are bound to sneak through. The protagonist of my YA novel, Fighting Chance, is about as different from me as possible: He's seventeen, he's a jock who lives for martial arts and basketball, he doesn't much care for school, and he is, yes, male. But his food preferences, alas, are too much like mine. He yearns for cheeseburgers, pizza, lasagna--and he's stuck with health-conscious parents who serve up tofu stir-fry, quinoa patties, and gluten-free trifle. I hope their food fights inject an element of family conflict (and some humor) into the novel without getting too heavy.

  10. B.K. - Food fights? Like the one in my (what Eve would call 'Ahem') novel Rowena Through the Wall? (The messy kind.)
    Oh. You meant philosophical. Love the concept, and the humour generated from that. We would get along just fine in the kitchen :)

  11. Is her name Gino or Gina? I see both spellings but Gino sounds male. I got to buy the book to find out.

    The article and comments leave me wondering what a collaboration between BK and Melodie would read like.

  12. How did I miss that spelling error, Anon? Yes, it's Gina, and thanks for the heads-up and the comment! According to my editor, that book comes with a "Pee before you read this" warning.


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