Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Harris_Daisyby Daisy Harris

One of the hardest things I’ve had to grasp as a writer is how things that occur in real life sound unreal if you try to put them in a book. My life is a series of awkward missteps and Threes-Company-worthy misunderstandings, yet many of those—sometimes the ones I think will make the best stories—don’t translate in fiction.

For example, one time when I was young and still dating, I mistook an obscene phone caller for my ex-boyfriend. Worse yet, I labored under this delusion for a week until I confronted my ex-boyfriend who explained to me that it had not been him on the phone. If you wrote this into a story, it would seem totally fake. I, the heroine, would be dubbed “too stupid to live” because how on earth could someone hear heavy breathing and infer that the person on the other end of the line was the dude she broke up with six months earlier?

Well, the reason is because in life, crazy things happen. People misunderstand each other in ways so intense it’s like they’re not even speaking the same language. In fiction, though, your book is supposed to be cohesive. Even though we may be writing in deep third person, it’s understood that the author is always the narrator.

Take characters who say off-color things. In real life, good people make crass or tasteless jokes all the time. Hopefully, it’s rare, but I’m sure some of us know the sweet and cuddly brother or husband or uncle or grandpa who we love to death but who every once in a while makes us cringe.

That guy needs to be way toned down to sound right in your book. Real people are complex; characters, however, are simple. If you write romance, like I do, the goofy uncle or brother or father-in-law is going to be a side character, without a lot of room for detail. They can have foibles, they can even make mistakes, but they can’t be exactly like Grandpa Earl who drove little old ladies to church but also liked to terrorize the kids by threatening to kill the dog. In real life, this person exists. In fiction? Not so much.

downloadThe worst is when you write a setting or a character who is based on a real place or person. Hooyah, you won’t want to change your story even if your betas, your editors, and even your readers complain. I know I’m going to get blasted for my upcoming book, Nothing But Smoke, because my character’s Catholic mother is too religious.

Nicky’s mom in Nothing But Smoke is the kind of old-school Catholic who likes having statues of saints and angels all over the house and likes to watch mass on TV. I know she comes off like a caricature, but I can’t seem to stop myself because I wrote her based on a member of my family who was very important to me.

I can still picture the little, cherubic, hand-painted angels I got as gifts as a kid, and remember how terrified I was of the statue of St. Peter, especially once he lost his right hand in an accident involving my brothers roughhousing. Best, I remember a statue of the Virgin Mary with little doors that opened that I got as a teenager. When you closed the doors the whole thing looked disturbingly phallic.

You can’t write a dildo-shaped Virgin Mary statue into a novel. Or boys playing football with St. Peter’s head. You can’t write things that are simultaneously hypocritical and meaningful, holy and profane. Unfortunately, in fiction, you have to make choices and stick to a simple path.

In the end, I’m leaving Nicky’s mom as the person she is—because I knew that person in all her complexity. Maybe it’s bad writing, but I tried to do justice to a personality who was more than just the sum of her parts.

But don’t try this at home, children! Life doesn’t make sense but fiction is supposed to. In fact, that’s why we read fiction. To get the sense that everything falls into place. That funny thing that happened to you that you just can’t wait to put in a book? Don’t. I mean, you can try it, but don’t be surprised if the thing that sounds funny in real life just seems stupid once it’s committed to the page.

The trick in writing is to make sense of things. Stuff happens, people fall, but it all comes together in the end. If only life were that simple!

Daisy Harris is a retired party girl and science fiction enthusiast who spends most of her time writing sexy romance and plotting the fall of Western civilization. She is the author of multiple gay romance novels including From the Ashes, After the Rain, and the Men of Holsum College series. Visit Daisy’s website.

Rainbow Valentine this Thursday in Seattle!

Feb13_Box2This Thursday, February 13 at 7pm, come join Gay Romance Northwest as we celebrate love stories at Seattle’s University Book Store!

At Rainbow Valentine: A Celebration of LGBT Romance Fiction, GRNW 2014 authors Daisy Harris, M.J. O’Shea, Rick R. Reed, and Sheri Lewis Wohl will all read from their work.

This reading event is open to the public and free! The reading will be held on the second floor of the book store. Come join us! 😀

Pre-Reading Meet-Up!

For those who would like to meet before the reading, come join us at the bar/restaurant Flowers (4247 University Way NE) at 6pm where we’ll be chilling before the event.

Everyone will start to head over to the University Book Store at around 6:45. (The U Book Store is just one block from Flowers, at 4326 University Way NE.)

About the Authors

Daisy Harris is a retired party girl and science fiction enthusiast who spends most of her time writing sexy romance and plotting the fall of Western civilization. She is the author of multiple gay romance novels including From the Ashes, After the Rain, and the Men of Holsum College series.

M.J. O’Shea has been writing romance since algebra class in sixth grade. When she’s not writing, she loves listening to nearly all types of music, painting, and reading great authors. She has written multiple gay romance novels, including One Small Thing, Catch My Breath, and Coming Home.

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery, and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories and is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner for his novels Caregiver, Orientation, and The Blue Moon Café, and a 2013 Rainbow Award winner for his novel Raining Men.

Sheri Lewis Wohl grew up in northeast Washington State and though she always thought she’d move away, never has.  Despite traveling throughout the United States, Sheri always finds her way back home.  And so she lives, plays, and writes amidst mountains, evergreens, and abundant wildlife. She is the author of multiple lesbian paranormal romance novels, including Crimson Vengeance, Burgundy Betrayal, and Scarlet Revenge.

Join the event on Facebook or visit our events page to learn more about this reading and more upcoming GRNW events! 😀

Upcoming GRNW Events!

We have a great line-up of upcoming events that we wanted to share (and we hope you can join us!)

Feb13_BoxThursday, Feb. 13 – Rainbow Valentine (University Book Store)

On Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7pm, we’ll be hosting at Seattle’s University Book Store the special reading event “Rainbow Valentine” that celebrates LGBT romance fiction, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

GRNW 2014 authors Daisy Harris, M.J. O’Shea, Rick R. Reed, and Sheri Lewis Wohl will all be reading from their work, and following the readings there will be an author Q&A.

The event is public and free. Come celebrate love stories with us!

Visit the University Book Store to learn more.

Gaylaxy QuestFriday, Feb. 21 – Gaylaxy Quest (Gay City)

Gay City, Queer Geek, and GRNW are joining together (like Voltron!) to host the reading event “Gaylaxy Quest: A Celebration of Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction” on Friday, February 21 at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium at 7pm.

This event will feature readings by GRNW 2014 authors Astrid Amara, Ginn Hale, Laylah Hunter, and Samuel Jarius Pettit, and should be an awesome evening of queer speculative fiction.

Following the readings, there will be an author Q&A and also an after party in the auditorium featuring free snacks and drinks. Books by the authors will also be on sale.

This event Is free and open to the public. We hope you can come!

Visit Gay City’s site for more info.

More Upcoming Events!

March 2014 – We’ll be holding our next Seattle LGBT Romance Reader Group meeting in March, most likely the weekend of March 8-9, to coincide with the Gay City LGBT Library book sale. Stay tuned for more info!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – Seattle Public Library, Gay City, and GRNW are partnering together to present a special reading event at SPL’s Central Branch that spotlights LGBT mysteries and suspense!

The event will feature readings by GRNW 2014 authors Nicole Kimberling, Lori L. Lake, and Lou Sylvre, and will also include a Q&A following the readings.

This event will be free and open to the public. More information coming soon! 😀

We’re SUPER excited about these upcoming events and the chance to spread more awareness of LGBT genre fiction and its many awesome local authors. We hope you can come join us and be part of the celebration!