Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Something about books, characters and friends.

I heard recently something about going to a writers conference - to the untrained ear, writers seem nuts because they are talking about all the things characters in their book are thinking or saying to them. It reminded me of something else - we bookworms are friends with characters. Even Rory Gilmore mentions this in her valedictorian speech after leaving Chilton.

I once asked my Dad if I was consumed by books. When he listed all the stupid places I read books, we decided that I probably was. And that has never been a bad thing.

 Readers like characters. That's why we read. If I share the same book with a friend, we are likely to speak about the characters as if they were real and we knew them really well. In some ways, characters are friends. In fact, this lady was my best friend at 18:

My character friends in no particular order:

Bridget Jones
"Hellllllloooo Bridget!" As brilliant as the movies were, book Bridget kicks some serious ass. She makes lists, weighs herself every day, loves fad diets and has pretty whacky friends. Most of all, she is confused a lot of the time. I can't relate to that too well, but it is pretty cute.

Tully Makker
Tully is probably the most self-centred character ever overwritten. Her one motive in life is to do all the things her dead best friend didn't get to do, including getting together with a complete jerk who treats both of the girls badly. The blurb doesn't lie when it tells you that "you can't help but like her". The only admirable thing she does is work for DOCS. But that's it. What I like though is that she doesn't get it right all the time. Unlike the BSC.

The Baby Sitters Club
Kristy, Claudia, Stacey and co were my best friends in primary school. They could solve problems, had more maturity than most of the negligent parents in the book and always knew the right thing to say. Those girls had more adventures, day camps and holidays than anyone I'm ever likely to meet. They also made some really confusing judgements, like volunteering to spend their summers looking after kids, being obsessed with California/NYC and travel in general and getting all serious about relationships at 11. But hey, I'll save that for another blog post.

Laura Ingalls Wilder
My fave biography about Laura says that a librarian once found "I love you Laura" written in the back of a Little House book, and then said of it "We all do". I loved Laura because she was high spirited, had ambition, gave everything a go and wasn't afraid to stand up for herself. When I discovered the Little House books a few weeks after my 11th birthday, I had no idea I'd still be rereading them every year. Whenever I lack confidence or feel nervous, I read parts of Laura's books - such as my first eisteddfod, I read about Laura's recitation at the school house. My first day of teaching I read about Laura's first term out. In the words of that seven year old girl, I love you Laura.

Winnie + Lauren from Freshman Dorm
Man, how I love those girls. I'm a lot like both of them. If you never had the chance to read the Freshman Dorm books, or you did and you want to refresh your memory, I'm writing a blog about them here. Winnie is basically manic and kooky, Lauren is a chubby writer who wears bowling shirts.

Jessica Wakefield
Jessica was the cool Wakefield twin from Sweet Valley High. She was a cheerleader, a drama queen, an actor and a serial dater. The bits about her twin sister Elizabeth were always boring, even when they tried to make Liz "cool". In the Senior Year books, which I'm reading at the moment, Jess seems a bit deeper and less flaky. 

Harry Potter
Although Harry could not have been a hero without a lot of additional help from his myriad of friends and acquaintances, Harry is seriously a pretty darn good character. He is a it pretentious, a bit of a jerk and he has a real knack of getting in to trouble. You can't hold it against him though, seeing as the pickles he kinds himself in made for outstanding reading. Ha. I love you Harry and Hars.