I was out with Team Seattle a few nights ago, and the conversation turned to our wacky relatives. Then, in a phone call with my agent, we started talking about people we both knew that no one would buy as characters in a novel.
You know the kind--people who are so off the reservation that critics and first readers ding you for being, yanno, unbelievable. I've known a few of those in my time, the most memorable of which I can't recount here because I know they're reading my blog. So sad. I guess I'll just have to put their crazy in a novel some day and hope people don't think I'm actually making this shit up.
It brings up an interesting point in my mind, though--as authors of fiction, we have an unspoken responsibility to our readers to keep our fantasy within the bounds of a reader's suspension of disbelief. If I told the story about my college stalker in one of my novels, no one would buy it as a logical sequence of events in the story because the guy was just that wacked.
I do use the good parts, though, hanging small nuggets of truth on the framework of a character who slots believably into the story I'm telling. Less is generally more, because there's a threshold when readers throw up their hands and declare that you're just making shit up! It's a fine balance to strike, but cherish the crazies you meet throughout your life--they make for some of the best fiction.
Since I can't be too specific about my weirdos here, tell me about the person in your life voted Most Likely to be Stranger Than Fiction! And I'll sweeten the pot: best story of Crazy wins an ARC of Pure Blood, Book 2 of the Nocturne City series, which won't be out until August 26th.
Get to typing and I'll announce the winner next Thursday.