How much ‘you’ projects into your writing?
It’s an interesting question.
Can an author successfully excise his or her views and attitudes to the extent that their characters are able to live and act entirely independently of the author’s own mores and general life-governing principles?
I think the answer is ‘yes and no’.
Yes, in that creating a fictional and potentially unpleasant scenario an author is not necessarily implying that he or she is condoning the protagonist’s behaviour, far less the antagonist’s. Having said that it’s more than likely (as I’ve suggested in a previous post) that in presenting a challenging or shocking scene the author is not only working out some deep and subconscious fear of their own but also inviting the reader to empathise with these fears.
Author Ian Rankin commented recently that in his novels he is able to apply a degree of control to a dangerously skewed and messy world. He can show the mess that we humans create and within the ‘safe’ confines of the novel tidy up the loose ends. In doing so he tries to understand what motivates men and women to behave the way they do.
So, as authors we are in the privileged position of being able to create a controllable mess of characters and situations to compensate for the hard reality of living in the world as it really is.
No in that inevitably the author’s life-governing principles will still radiate strongly from the pages of a novel, even if the author occasionally creates situations which seem to be the absolute antithesis of those principles. At a personal level, I sometimes do this to challenge the reader’s preconceptions and to perhaps encourage them to give their own life-governing principles a nudge.
And let’s face it, we all need the occasional nudge.
Having said that, I now have to ask myself: Are there any taboos I would hesitate to breach as an author ? Are there places I wouldn’t dare go?
Watch this space . . .