Life experience is a rich source for character development in a novel. As a writer it is important to have had a variety of experiences -good and bad…especially bad – to be able to make one’s character believable. Imagination works too, but drawing together aspects of people’s personalities is a great resource.
In my newly published novel, The Root Cellar, the story of a Jewish boy who is on a journey of self-discovery, I brought my experience of working with boys with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism as a basis for the character’s need to hide, to self-soothe by repeating multiplication tables, Pi and the constant preoccupation with figuring out things based on mathematics.He cries often to express frustration and sorrow, another behavior I associate with one of the boys I worked with. Although I did not make autism a direct feature of the novel, or a cause in the name of autism in any way, I used my experience to include this in the protagonist’s behaviors.
I wrote the novel from the point of view of Josif, the main character, deliberately omitting certain mundane matters because he just wouldn’t notice details that did not directly speak to his interests. His own family, once he is married, are secondary to his interest in engineering and physics. At that time it was not uncommon for men not to be very involved with raising their offspring; they are secondary to his raison d’etre. He is not close to them the way he was with his mother and sister Nadya. His love for his sister is almost obsessive and drives him to go back to Russia after WWII has ended.
Similarly, when he is forced to kill two of the characters who were cannibalizing a corpse, Josif is able to push this experience into the back of his mind until something triggers it. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so will not go into detail about this!
I really loved working on this novel, doing hours of research which is always very satisfying to me! If you are kind enough to purchse the book, please give me a rating or review on Amazon, it really helps! Thanks so much!