Saturday, July 12, 2008


By Kate

Let me say right off the bat, although I have little people living inside my head, I do not have multiple personality disorder. I'm just one of that "special" class of people with overactive imaginations -- also called fiction writers. Also, the little people do not control my life -- much. As far as I know, it's just me making personal decisions. I wish I could blame some of my decisions on someone else but, no. However, I do have a husband . . . Hmm.

But when it comes to what happens when I sit down at the computer and open up my latest work-in-progress, all bets are off as to who's in charge. This was brought home to me when, as a guest at a bookclub meeting not too long ago, I found myself trying to explain how the characters I create are separate from me. They have distinct personalities, likes, dislikes, dreams and fears, some of which I share with them, but not all. In some cases, not any.

To backtrack a moment, it's always fun for me to attend a meeting of people who love books, and even more fun if they've read any of the Flower Shop mysteries. I enjoy talking about my characters – why I chose a particular name, a particular "look," nationality, and so on. But I was stopped short when one woman asked me why I'd chosen a beat-up, 1960 yellow Corvette convertible for my feisty young sleuth to drive. Was it a car I owned? Ever dreamed of owning? In yellow? I had to answer no to all her questions.

"Then why did you pick a yellow Corvette convertible for Abby?" she asked.

I scratched my head. Looked around. Saw many pairs of eyes watching, waiting. I shrugged. "Abby picked them."

Honestly, she did. I don't even like yellow -- except on bananas and lemons. Yellow makes me look like I just recovered from a case of jaundice. I don't much care for convertibles, either, and I've never ridden in a Corvette. So why did Abby pick a Vette? See, that's where it gets tricky – trying to explain how a made-up character is that real to me (without appearing insane.) Abby chose the Vette because 1) It was at a price she could afford; 2)It fits her personality; and, 3) Yellow is her favorite color. The decision was really out of my hands.

Another thing about having little people inside my head -- they're noisy. I mean, they really talk a lot, which is why I don't turn on my CD player or the television when I work. Sometimes, when I take a break to get a cup of coffee, I'll notice how silent the house is. But once back in my office, seated at the computer, well, it's a regular talk fest.

I know other writers understand what I'm talking about. I'm wondering if musicians feel the same way when they're composing, if they hear all sorts of sounds. What about artists? Do they hear anything or do they have visions?

Having those little people in my head talk to me for most of my work day may sound crazy, but actually it's quite stimulating. They do say the darndest things. Sometimes they even make me cry. One thing for sure: I'm never lonely.