“My books are fiction, not autobiographical!” Okay, so most people get that but after I published my first romance novel, I experienced a weird type of writer’s anxiety.
Years ago while I wrote my very first novel, I realized people might one day read it. That concept was both thrilling and terrifying. My mind ping-ponged between ‘Woo hoo, readers’ and ‘OMG, what will they think?’ That horror escalated about the time my first love scene hit the page. I imagined my grandmother reading it, calling me up, and asking me to explain exactly what possessed me to write such a thing. But that was silly, since it was solid romantic suspense and not a porno script, and my grandma isn’t a prude, so I got over it.
Then last month, a few days after Nefarious hit the shelves, I woke up with the jitters. Copies had sold pretty well and people on three continents were reading it. A couple of those folks know me in the real world, outside of Writerland. There’s some pretty racy stuff in the book, plenty of steamy love scenes. For some reason, I woke up convinced they would think I was a pervert. Then I calmed myself down. People I trusted and respected had read the manuscript long before it was published, without thinking I was some kind of deviant, and they only had encouraging things to say about the book, including the juicy parts.
I have two cozy mysteries out, but never once have I woken up in a cold sweat afraid the cops were going to come slap cuffs on me because of the fun yet creative ways I come up with to kill people. (Let me clarify. To kill characters I write about, so put those cuffs away, any of you FBI dudes reading this.) A couple of my manuscripts deal with total psychos, but nobody has tried to put me in the rubber room because they thought that since I wrote it, I must be a homicidal maniac too.
I absolutely LOVE writing about things that are shocking and unexpected. One of the coolest things about being an author is making people laugh, gasp, cry, or holler ‘Oh NOOOO they didn’t!’ as they read my books.
Anyway, I’m over the pervert anxiety for now. I’d love to hear from you writers out there. Ever had one of those ‘I’m not a perv, psycho, etc’ moments? Maybe we should come up with a special disclaimer for that, something like: This is fiction, damn it, and the characters’ thoughts and actions are not necessarily shared by the author. 🙂