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The Dirty Secret Fiction Writers Don’t Want You To Know

Before I became an author I thought of fiction writers as either genius or insane. When I started writing my first novel I quickly discovered that I was correct.

And I’m no genius.

As an author I get asked a lot (A LOT) where I get my ideas from. And as an author of suspense I get asked a lot (A LOT) how I can conjure such macabre material from my mind. I usually give some pat answer about having an active imagination or wanting my readers to see the world for what it really is. I talk about telling the truth through my writing.

And all that is true . . . but it’s not the whole story.

What I don’t tell those inquiring minds is a dirty little secret that fiction writers keep well protected.

Until now.

The truth is that fiction writers are all slightly off center. A little insane.

I say fiction writers because I don’t want to unjustly lump my non-fiction brothers and sisters into that group. And fiction writing is an animal all its own. (A disclaimer is necessary at this point. I’m sure there are fiction writers who don’t fall into this category and I apologize for generalizing here but really, c’mon, admit it, we’re all a little wonky).

Think about it. We create worlds that don’t really exist. Towns, buildings, and people to inhabit those places. We give those people personalities and lives and histories and then we converse with them in our heads. Sometimes we talk out loud to them. We spend time with people who don’t really exist. We grow to care about them. We hear voices in our heads. At times, we obsess over those voices and people behind them. And at times, we let those people tell their own story.

The American Psychiatric Association has diagnoses for all those behaviors. No kidding.

But we live with it because we say it’s part of our imagination, our creativity. We’re okay with being a little insane.

Regular folk (I say “regular” for lack of a better term) don’t understand the mindset of a fiction author. They can’t. And it’s probably for the best. If they knew what really went on in our heads, if they could hear those voices, if they knew the fine line we walk, I truly believe they’d have every single one of us committed.

Of course, maybe things are topsy turvy and fiction writers are the normal ones. Maybe everyone else is insane.

Then again, maybe that, too, is part of the delirium.

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