Write about me

When people hear that you’re a writer, they normally ask you things like ‘What kind of stuff do you write’, ‘What is it about’ or ‘Is it published?’ I always assumed that if anyone were to express a specific request about writing, it would be along the lines of  ‘please, don’t write about this.’ Unlike doctors, writers aren’t usually expected to look at stuff and provide a diagnosis.

Then, a few months ago, when I was having drinks with expats, I casually mentioned wanting to write a spy thriller. A gentleman across the table got sparks in his eyes.

‘You should make me your main character, like James Bond,’ he said.

No doubt, he would be a great James Bond-like spy. He was charming, elegant and stood out, but that was not at all how I imagined my spy to be.

I suggested he might want to keep an eye on Sarah Hilary’s ‘Get in Character’ auctions. It’s such a brilliant creative idea to let people bid to have characters named after them.

Writers can give the impression that we’re always rummaging through people’s lives, searching for material. It’s true. We are. It’s just that the things we find are more like half-formed ideas, tiny bits and pieces that still need to fit together and make sense. Snapshots from the street, a word caught while eavesdropping in a café, a thought at the end of a ‘what if’ stream. It is, after all, fiction and, unlike real life, it has to make sense.

What about you? Would you lend your name or character to someone’s story?