Have you ever wondered just how much real life makes it into fiction? Quite a bit, it turns out!
Personally, I have a ton of examples in my writing that I took from my life. Several characters have been based on people I know, named after them, or named after pets. I've written a few of the pets I've had over the years into stories, too! Places I've visited have made appearances, and things that I hold dear have been woven into the pages of my worlds. This week on Writing Mind, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites.
In my first novel, Zeus, my main character, Karly, moves to Las Vegas to attend school. She'd never been there before, and her first night on the Strip was an experience, to say the least.
We finally reached the Strip, and I stared in wonder as we passed Mandalay Bay. “It’s huge!” I looked at the girls in disbelief.
“Wait till you see the inside of Paris or The Venetian,” Jenny laughed. “They go all out here. The inside of Tartarus resembles Greece, complete with a Mount Olympus in the middle of the casino. It’s quite fantastic, if you ask us.”
“It blows my mind,” I said. “I can’t even imagine how much it must cost to build something like that.”
“Well, this is Sin City,” Jessie laughed. “There’s probably been enough money lost here to build a whole second world.”
Lighted signs flashed from every direction, advertising shows and buffets. I craned my neck trying to see everything as it zipped by us. Some of the cars were even advertising escort services, much to my dismay. I blushed deeply at the pictures they displayed, but not as badly as when I saw three girls on the sidewalk wearing nothing but fishnets and vests which read “booty police.” It suddenly occurred to me how sheltered my life had been before. No wonder my parents hadn’t wanted me to come.
Which part is real, you ask? Well, during my first adult trip to Vegas, I saw three prostitutes in nothing but police hats, purple vests that read "BOOTY POLICE," and fishnet stockings standing on the sidewalk, advertising their services 😂 We were literally just driving into town, at the very start of the Strip. As a young, naive girl, I was quite shocked, haha. So much so that I remembered the experience and wrote it into my book!
In my latest release, Passed Away, I happily wrote this little tidbit from my life into Samantha and Tristan's world:
“Why do ye mash yer eggs?” I asked, changing the conversation toward my wife and child. “Do ye think he will choke?”
Sam chuckled, shaking her head as she spooned a mouthful of food past Michael's teeth. “No. I mean, he could, but that’s not why I mashed them up. My great-grandfather used to always eat his eggs like this. He would squish them together in a bowl and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. When he had them scrambled instead of boiled, he would cover them in cheese and ketchup. My mom fed them to me like this. I guess it’s just a family thing.”
Her face brightened as she shared the story, some long tucked away memory surfacing in her eyes. I could see she loved the thought of it, as well as the fact such a small thing could be passed down through the ages.
Grinning, I tapped my spoon on my shell, spreading spiderwebs across its surface. “What’s ketchup?” I asked. “Ye’ve not mentioned it to me before.”
Her eyes met mine, humor glistening in them. “It’s a sauce made from tomatoes and a few other things. Sweet and tangy. Good on French fries.”
I raised an eyebrow, but she answered before I could ask, chuckling.
“Slices of fried potato. I can make you some if you want, but I’m not sure what all goes into making ketchup. Tomatoes, sugar, some spices . . . Something that gives it a more tangy flavor than sweet.” She shrugged, her attention turning to the baby. “I’ll think on it. Cooking for your crews has to be of some help in my culinary knowledge, doesn’t it?”
“If ye consider dry tack and beans to be tangy in flavor.” I laughed outright as she shot me a half-annoyed look. “Of course, each dish ye made was delicious, love.”
My own great-grandfather, Papa Moody, ate his eggs this way. The preference was passed down through the generations to me, and I now make my kids boiled eggs this way. We are also quite fond of ketchup! His liking for cornbread and milk is still prevalent in our eating habits as well, though his taste for regular bread and milk is not 😝
How about you? Have you ever drawn on real-life experiences to create stories? If not, what would you use if you were writing something? Let me know in the comments!