…Or You’ll End Up in My Novel

If you hang around authors enough, you’ll hear the phrase “be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” Many threaten to murder, ridicule, or torture real-life people through characters who may only subtly resemble the characters in the book, but the author knows it’s them. I’ve never killed a character based on a real person—if anything I tend to base characters on people I LIKE—but I have made a few the antagonist. In Fracture, the female bully was based on a particularly lovely woman I worked with, and about two weeks ago I realized who inspired the Snow Bunnies, aka the Snow Bitches, in The Slope Rules.

I’d like to introduce you to the women in one of my workout videos. They seem sweet enough, right?

Apparently I’m harboring some aggression towards the ladies in my DVD, especially the instructor, because the Snow Bunnies are basically them. And this was not intentional! Here are a few examples:

When we get to Eldora, we bypass Pleasantville and stumble head-first into future Stepford Wives of America. Forget Future Models, these girls are full-on crazy pants. They prance out of the locker rooms in matching non-matching outfits: form-fitting ski jackets—each in a different bright color—with tight-fitted pants that show enough of their bums to get attention, plus headbands, goggles, and matching ponytails. Brianna’s smile fades when she sees my navy blue snowboarding pants and jacket. The lime green racing stripe hardly compares to her neon-pink ensemble.

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Once we’re strapped into our skis—I’m shocked they haven’t color-coordinated those—I trail behind them to the chairlift. Eldora isn’t as big as the other resorts surrounding Denver, but the powder is just as good. Brianna and Kenzie pair off for the chairlift so I wait next to Mike. The chair swings around, scooping them up, and we slide into position. As soon as we’re in the air and out of earshot of Brianna, I take a deep breath.

“So what’s with the outfits?”

Mike’s is bright blue. She rolls her eyes and lets out a small laugh. “Don’t let Bri hear you say that.”

Kenzie and Mike follow, their movements mirror images of Brianna. The three of them curve gracefully around a bend, their neon outfits glowing against the snow like that stupid tracker they use on TV to help spectators who can’t track a ball or puck.

She tosses a glance over her shoulder. “Try to keep up!” She crouches into what I guess she thinks is a tuck and goes a little faster down the hill. The girls mimic her and I feel like I’m trailing after a psychedelic rainbow.

The third girl wears neon orange. So basically, the mean girls are my workout instructors. Talk about hanging onto hostility!

How have you immortalized a real life person in your writing? And readers, have you ever suspected that a character is based on a real person, despite the disclaimer at the beginning of books?

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My Book Launch Party is Today!

If you live in the area, stop by The Bookman between 6-8pm TODAY to help me celebrate The Slope Rules! Here’s the Facebook page with more information.

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama.
SCBWI member since 2015.

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