The decision to write a romantic comedy was pure marketing. It sounds obvious, but the best strategy to selling more books is writing more books. As a romcom, it didn’t have to be complicated or epic. It could just be a good, old-fashioned adventure with a heavy dose of humor and a whole lot of mushy moments.
Three months later, Finding Fireflies was born, and, to date, everyone who reads it tell me that it’s the most authentic story I’ve ever written. It had to be. I wrote it so fast, I had to use my own voice. But the best part about Finding Fireflies is that only about 50% of it is actually fiction. The rest of it really happened.
Real life truly is stranger than fiction, so that’s where I get a lot of concepts for novels. I use real-life people in novels but only as a basic foundation for a character. Most times, I use several real-life people to create one character. Take the protagonist in Finding Fireflies, Trisha Lee. She goes through several life events that are true-to-life experiences my friend had, but Trisha Lee is the result of my voice plus my friend’s life experiences.
It’s different if you get permission from someone to use them in a story, but in the case of Finding Fireflies, I had to make fun of a lot of things. It’s a comedy. And while it’s true that real life is pretty funny by itself, exaggeration is sometimes key to making people laugh. I didn’t want to run the risk of offending someone for the sake of comedy.
Real life is a great place to get ideas for fiction. Just be sensitive to the people you use as a basis for your characters. Make sure they understand your motivation and, if possible, get them to sign off on your concept. Who knows? You might end up with a new, dedicated reader in the process!
A.C. Williams is a novelist, freelance writer/editor, and founder of Crosshair Press. When she isn’t writing, she hangs out at her family’s 100-year-old farm on the Kansas prairie. She is single, loves cats, and drinks far too much coffee. Contact her at www.amycwilliams.com, or pick up her novels, the romcom Finding Fireflies and the space opera Nameless, at the Crosshair Press bookstore, http://www.crosshairpress.com/books.