This week I did a video on my YouTube Channel discussing why the main character of my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is a red head. Obviously, this is an odd question to pose and I’m not sure if anyone will understand my purpose behind it but it’s a question I’ve asked myself several times.
Like many authors, aspects of who I am slip into my stories and characters. Some are more intentional, others are complete accidents.
To sum up the video, I realized Sarah was a red head because for me, as a child, being a red head was a sign of the “other.” It was a sign you were an alternative and not a favored one. Additionally, two of my favorite characters from literature are red heads. That is Annie from the musical ‘Annie” and Anne from “Anne of Green Gables.”
Besides their red hair, these characters had several other traits in common. They were witty, talkative, curious, and, sometimes, completely odd. They had a flair for the dramatic and in the end, it’s their own quirks that save the day and make them admirable heroines. Neither Anne nor Annie conformed to what they were supposed to be. Honestly, I’m not sure if they could. It just wasn’t in them.
After doing this bit of self-reflection (writing is amazing, right?), I have a good idea of why Sarah is a curly red head. But as curious as I am, I couldn’t leave it there. I started to wonder where else I had left the pieces of me in my characters and where a therapist would be best to look to get a good idea of my noggin?
The best answer, of course, is my high school journals. There’s so much hormonal feeling combined with dysfunctional childhood crap in those pages, I think they’d even be too much for Bravo. Considering the dramatic “reality” shows they host, that’s saying something.
Anyway, as I flipped through my journals and old notes, reading bits of stories I wrote (hey, that rhymed!) I noticed a trend. In almost every story I wrote as a kid, the villain was always a woman, often she was the main character’s mother. Though she wasn’t always the evilest of villains, there was a trend, a very disturbing one actually. Because as funny as it is, I have mommy issues.
Ugh, it even reads weird as I’m typing it.
To keep it short and not go into too much detail, I did not have the best relationship with my birth mother. I had the complete opposite of the best, in fact, and I don’t think it could have gotten worst because it was already so horribly formed. However, if you want a clearer idea of our mother-daughtership, I point you in the direction of “Gilmore Girls.”
Besides being an amazingly awesome show everyone should watch (I’ll be forming a petition soon), Lorelai and Rory have a great relationship. Notice I said great and not perfect. They argue, they fib and sometimes they storm away. Still, they love one another. They never really abandon each other and nine times out of ten they tell each other everything. Lovely, right?
Now take all of that goodness, crumble it up, scorch it, drop it in some tar, and take a baseball bat to it a few times. Yup, that was me and my birth mother. Good times, good times.
In the end, I saw that every character was an amplified aspect of myself. It shouldn’t be that surprising, really, but seeing all the good, bad, and ugly I am personified on paper does something to me. In each story, I could see an emotion or memory. In one story, the main character represented my cowardice, in another she was my bravery. And during the darker periods, she was my fear, particularly the fear that I’d become like my birth mother.
If anyone says writing isn’t therapy, they should be punched in the face. But nicely.
Want to check out my latest YouTube video? Click here to learn all the details about why Sarah,my main character, is a red-head.