Monday, December 6, 2010

Become a fictional character

A writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature. - Ernest Hemingway

Author Jasper Fforde’s characters have the enviable ability to literally jump in and out of books. For instance, in the first book of the series, The Eyre Affair, when the villain Acheron Hades kidnaps Jane, it’s up to the protagonist, Tuesday Next, a special ops in the Literary Division, to save the title character and the book. In the second book, Lost in a Good Book, Tuesday Next hops in and out of The Trial (Kafka), Great Expectations (Dickens), Alice in Wonderland (Carroll), and The Raven (Poe).

What fun it would be if we were able to meet the characters of our favorite books in this manner.

Though it’s not possible to leap into books except in our imagination, there is now a way to become a character in a book by a prominent author. Through December 20th, authors including Thomas Perry, Jane Smiley, Stuart Woods, and Dave Eggers are featured on a charity auction on eBay to raise money for the First Amendment Project. Click here to see the entire list of writers involved.

The authors are auctioning off characters in future books. According to the site, “Your name can be an FBI agent or a stripper with a heart of gold in the next entry in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series; a villain or a victim in Thomas Perry’s next entry in the Jane Whitefield series, a wounded World War I soldier or drunken Bohemian in Andrew Sean Greer’s next novel, as a character in a new musical by Janet Burroway, or a character in a cartoon series by Ben Katchor, Chris Ware or T Campbell…”

The last time I checked, the highest bid was $500.00 for the stripper character in Brockmann’s series.

My characters tend to take control at some point in the writing process. I assume this happens to other writers. If the characters suddenly decide not be killed off or go down the path the author intended, it’s possible (though not probable) the winners might find themselves as the protagonist/antagonist in a popular new series.

Would you bid to have your name become a character in a book? What sort of character would you like to be? If you could pop into a book to mingle with the characters, which book would you choose?

Just a reminder about the opportunity to win books (no bidding required) at Darcia Helle’s Indie Books Holiday Giveaway. I’m excited to be among the forty-seven authors who are offering hundreds of free print and eBooks. Click here to see the list of participating authors and books. Entry is simple. Click here for the form.

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope to see you next week.

Tags: Hemingway, Fforde, The First Amendment Project, eBay auction, Darcia Helle, Indie Books Giveaway,


Teresa aka JW said...

I have quite a list of characters I would like to meet, Scarlett OHara, Jane Eyre, The entire Joad family in Grapes, and the list goes on.

When my son was very little I purchased a book where his name was inserted with the characters of a book. It was fun for him.

Old Kitty said...

What a great way to fundraise!!! thanks for the link and the info!
oooh I'd love to be a character in and Agatha Christie mystery - Miss Lemon perhaps!! That would be fun -or Miss Marple's nephew! Then I could bask in their brilliance as they go about solving dastardly crimes!!

Take care

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Now that would be weird to be named in a book! My character couldn't be deplorable, though.

Joanne said...

Part of the fun of mingling with certain characters is also the time travel involved, seeing places in different eras. I'd like to visit Jane Eyre, or Rebecca, especially for the atmosphere of their locales. I'm also reading a memoir right not that takes place in 1970s NYC, which would be an interesting journey back to take.

Laura Marcella said...

Fun! There are hundreds of characters I'd like to meet! Anne Shirley tops my list, though. :)

If I could be a character, I'd want to be a combination: the intelligence of Hermione Granger, imagination of Anne Shirley, and the kickass courage and attitude of Stephanie Plum! Oh, and I certainly wouldn't mind the enchanting looks of Scarlett O'Hara. :)

Jen Chandler said...

Fun post and really fun fundraiser!
There are TONS of characters I'd love to hang out with. For starters? Charlie Weasley.

Not sure what type of character I'd like to be. Probably the character everyone thinks is a villian but really isn't, who's snarky and a bit gruff but has a heart of gold and knows how to get things done.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

The crew in Martha Grimes' books always seem like they're having so much fun! I think I'd like to hang out with them for a while. :)

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Teresa, you picked some interesting characters. I need to find a book like that for my grandson - I know he’d love it.

Old Kitty, it would be fun to be part of an Agatha Christie book as long as it’s not the character who gets killed off right away.

Diane, I wonder of having your name attached to a deplorable character could end up ruining a ‘real-life’ reputation.

Joanne, it would be fun to mingle with characters from a different era as long as I didn’t have to wear a corset. 1970 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago – it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been thirty years already.

Laura, and then you could really see what goes on at Green Gables. It sounds as if you found the combination for a perfect character – we better find you a flaw so you’ll be believable!)

Jen, I haven’t read the Harry Potter series (yes, I am aware I might be the only one!), so I’ll take you word for it that he’s a good character to hang out with. I think being an ‘almost-villian’ could be fun, too.

Elizabeth, I’m not familiar with Martha Grimes but you tweaked my interest. I’ll look her up.

Hart Johnson said...

So I take it you wanted to be the stripper? *snicker* (well you knew current bid!) I think this is a FABULOUS charity option--very fun. And I think it would be a blast to bid to be something totally out there. I'd like to be a spy maybe. Maybe someday, when I'm rich. I've also seen authors offer this as a prize in the blogosphere, though not for a while. I think for we lesser knowns, that is also a fun 'prize', though i guess we don't want to over-use it if we plan to be huge names one day and auction the right for charity.

The Golden Eagle said...

The fictional characters that seem real are the mark of a really good writer.

Oh, I'd love to meet dozens of characters . . . that would be an amazing thing!

Carol Kilgore said...

I'd like to be a stripper or a detective or maybe even a spy. Something I wouldn't do in real life.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I saw my name ON a book - that's good enough!
Unless I could be the heroic stud...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Hart, what I want is to have the body of a stripper!)

Golden Eagle, and there are some really good writers out there creating hundreds of characters who would be so much fun to meet.

Carol, it would be fun to see how an author has ‘us’ reacting to jobs and situations we’d never face in ‘real’ life.

Alex, an excellent point!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

There are characters I would love to meet, but I am pretty sure I would not bid to have my name as that of a character. What if the character turns out to be someone quite despicable?
But what I may do is when I really like a character, name him/her after soemone else.

Arlee Bird said...

I might bid to have my real name used as a character in a book if the money were going to a good cause and I had the money to spare. I wouldn't want to be anybody disgusting or evil.

I can't think of any books where I'd want to mingle with the characters offhand except maybe Huckleberry Finn. Most of the books that come to mind are rather bleak and in places where I don't know if want to be.

Maybe it would be cool to hang out with some of the characters in Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough--the good guys seemed like a pretty likeable bunch. And I wouldn't mind going through a wormhole.

Tossing It Out

Jim Murdoch said...

If I could meet anyone? Probably Didi and Gogo. I’d drive up to them, roll down the window and say, “He’s not coming lads – he was never coming. Hop in.”

As for being a character in a novel, although I never name myself I do appear in my second novel where the protagonist gets to meet his ‘creator’ and give him a piece of his mind.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jane .. that's a great idea for the kids .. and I love Hemingway's quote about characters .. as Stephen says about villains over on my blog ..

Thanks for the ideas here .. Hilary

Darcia Helle said...

I have no control over my characters. Whenever I try to lead them somewhere, they just laugh and dig their feet in the sand.

Auctioning off a character is a fun thing to do for charity. Apparently, people are willing to pay quite a bit to become someone else! My name is actually used in a short story, written by Joe Schwartz. (Soon to be published in an anthology.) He made me a murderous tramp. I loved it!

Christina Rodriguez said...

My name is fairly common and I have a hard enough time distinguishing myself online from the "others." It's annoying!

However, a friend of mine once used my name for the main character of a screenplay she was writing, and that was pretty cool.

Enid Wilson said...

Definitely Pride and Prejudice, to meet Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. But I won't mind sitting through a dinner with Lady Catherine de Bourgh either.

Fire and Cross

Stephen Tremp said...

This is a great Hemmingway quote. Who would I like to hangout with? Sherlock Holmes would be cool. James Bond. But I'd probably only get in the way.

Susanne Drazic said...

What a neat idea for a fundraiser.

Thanks for the reminder about the Indie Books Holiday Giveaway. I just registered.

Samantha Vérant said...

Hmmm. Mingling with characters in a book? For some reason, children's books keep coming to mind. Like Willy Wonka. Maybe I need a chocolate fix?

Helen Ginger said...

All of it sounds like a fun way to celebrate the holidays and raise money for good causes, too. If you had the money, it might make a good present for someone else.

Chris Phillips said...

That Ernest guy knew what he was talking about.

The Old Silly said...

Love the fundraiser idea. Good post, too. I had to tweet that Hemmingway quote - very good!

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Patricia Stoltey said...

Jane -- It's amazing how much fans will bid to have their names used in books, especially mysteries.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world