So, How Much of the Story is True?

Last week I did a radio interview, and I am still trying to figure out how to get the audio file out there so you can download it in case you missed it.  But the interview got me thinking, I got asked in the interview how much of the story of Beside the Music is true.

I get asked this all the time.

Of course in every work of fiction there is always some element of truth.  As writers we pick up on true things that we see or that happen to us, and we weave them into our stories.  I mean, how could we not?  In Beside the Music, Brenda and Tim are in a rut in their marriage.  Tim decides to run for office, Brenda is focusing on her career and trying to get an executive level promotion.  They are kind of doing their own things.  She’s not so into what he’s doing, and he’s not so into what she’s doing.  And I think this happens in many marriages.  Where the individuals in it forget how to be a singular person and they just become this us blob.  And when they try to branch out from the us blob it alienates the other person. 

So, she wants to let Hydra move in to the house and that alienates Tim in the worst way, of course.  To the point where he moves out.  And he’s of course very upset about the disruption to his life and he’s not very nice to Brenda as a result.  One night Todd and I were talking about Tim one night and he said to me, “I am so afraid that people will think that Tim is based on me and that people will think that I am a jerk.”  Let’s be clear, my readers, TIM AND TODD ARE NOTHING ALIKE.  Nothing at all.  The only thing they have in common is that they are both entrepreneurial.  Tim’s a mechanic who owns a shop, Todd’s an IT consultant who owns his own company.  That’s where the commonality ends.

And let’s also address the mother in law Portia.  Another thing to make very clear is my real life mother in law is NOTHING LIKE Portia either.  They have zero in common.  Zee.   Roe.  And that’s the hard thing about writing about people, the people in my life look to see where the similarities are and wonder if the undesirable things I wrote about my characters are really the things I don’t like about the real people in my life.  The way I get around that is to make sure that the mother in law in the book has nothing to do with my real life mother in law, for example.

But of course there are certain things that people in my life say that I’ve woven in to the characters in my book.  But I mostly used myself in that manner than the people in my life.  For example, I am very sarcastic and I swear like a salty sailor.  Brenda is also very sarcastic in her inner dialogue, and she also has a mouth that needs to be washed out with soap. 

Now, let’s talk about what’s true.

One thing that is true is the story of how Brenda and Tim met was the same exact story of how Todd and I met.  And you can read our story here.

Another thing that’s true is that Brenda hates wine.  I also hate wine.  I’ve often referred to wine as Chateau What the Fuck, as Brenda does too.  It’s to the point where my friend Brian will say when he comes over “Hey, you got any of that Chateau What the Fuck?”

And that’s where the true stuff ends, really.  The rest of it came from my imagination. 

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 11.06.17

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