Several authors I know have commented that being a writer spoils the pleasure of being a reader. We’re constantly examining the author’s technique, finding ideas to steal to adapt to our work and, maybe, feeling intimidated and inadequate.
It’s impossible when reading, to not wonder how much the author’s opinions are revealed by their characters. There are various terms used for this, such as mouthpiece, surrogate and stand-in. More writerly is a chorus character which dates back to Ancient Greek plays in which one of the functions of the chorus was to comment on the action.
Ayn Rand uses the character of John Galt to speak rambling monologues to expound her theories on Objectivism in Atlas Shrugged. J.K. Rowling has said that Hermione Granger was based on herself as a girl, and various other characters in the Harry Potter series had their origins in people she knew.
Such self-insertion can lead to the author appearing in idealised form. Stan Lee turned up in cameos in the Marvel comics. Philip K. Dick named a major character after himself in Radio Free Albemuth. W. Somerset Maugham writes The Razor’s Edge as a minor character drifting in and out of the story making comments about the actions of the key players.
We previously discussed You In Your Book, but, how much do you express your own attitudes towards things by what your protagonist says and does?
My crime series is set in Cornwall. The main character is the son of a farmer, who sold the family farm to become a copper. Plots often include rural crime. The new story features, as a sub-plot, an arsonist torching barns in the night. It’s impossible not to mention Brexit: my detective’s attitudes reflect my own.
I’ve reflected who I am by my characters commenting on loyalty, assisted suicide, violence, sexuality, illegal immigration, slavery, human trafficking and drug laws.
How much do you let readers in to who you are through your stories?