When I read fiction, I try to guess the author’s passions. Or on which side he stands regarding issues in his story.
That happened last month when I read The Appeal by John Grisham. It was tremendous fun to look for clues concerning his personal feelings about the two sides of a fictitious legal case and the events surrounding it. Like seasonings in a gumbo, his political sympathies (he is a former Mississippi state legislator) flavored the plot and the characters–exactly how I like it to be in a novel.
Whether I agree with the opinions of a fiction author or not, or align with his causes, I expect one or more of his passions to be revealed in his story.
I can usually distinguish between a story element carefully researched (but neither loved nor loathed) and one the author has experienced that has deeply affected him. And fiction is so much more exciting when the latter happens.
In my debut novel, Bird Face, it will probably be obvious to readers that I love dogs and creative people. And as I’ve gotten to know my Scriblerian partners on a personal level, I’ve learned of their passions, which I see woven into their manuscripts.
What love or loathing have you incorporated into a piece of fiction you’ve written, and how did you do it? Is it subtle or obvious? Whether flash fiction, short story, or novel–soon to be published or a work in progress–please share and feel free to mention the title.