Bringing Your Electronic Characters Out To Play

Maybe it’s because I spend most of my life as a ghost that I am always more comfortable hiding behind someone else, be it a ghostwriting client or a character telling a fictional story in the first person. Now I find that the electronic media provides me with a whole new playground for games in which I can continue to hide behind my characters’ masks, stirring together fiction and reality in a variety of combinations.

While in Zurich a couple of weeks ago for a non-fiction writing workshop, I met a lady on a parallel fiction course who had been commissioned to review “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer”. We managed to navigate this potential social minefield without controversy but she did say that she felt there should be “more sex” in the book – given that Maggie obviously enjoyed a great deal of the stuff during the years that she was chronicling in her memoir.

I know one of the “golden rules” is never to respond to the comments of critics, but once I’d had time to ponder the matter I felt there actually were reasons why Maggie would not wish to describe herself having sex. It seemed potentially undignified for me to come back to the very charming critic involved and protest, (especially as I don’t yet even know if the remark is going to be included in her final review). But it occurred to me that there was no reason why Maggie herself should not explain her thoughts on the subject in an interview with a literary journalist.

Since my blog, (http/ ), is my main platform for promotional activities of this sort I posted, (on October 12 should anyone be tempted to track it down), an extract from Maggie’s interview and alerted the critic to it. She very graciously responded that Maggie’s responses to the interviewer’s questions had indeed increased her understanding of why Maggie had chosen not to describe her sex life in any detail.

So now, as well as being Maggie’s ghostwriter, I am also blogging on her behalf – which takes the fine art of hackery, (my dictionary defines “hack” as “a person who makes his living by hiring himself out …. especially writing or journalism”), to a new and shameful level. Good fun though.


Linda Gillard said…
Thanks for an interesting & enjoyable post.

Was your critic American? My publisher never managed to secure a US edition of STAR GAZING even though many editors loved it and one of the reasons given was "not enough sex". Some US readers & bloggers have criticised my novels for the same reason and rather to my dismay, they've been categorised "sweet" in the US, (ie no raunchy sex.)

My son describes my fiction writing as playing with my imaginary friends. I've now given up trying to keep my characters in their place and accepted some years ago that I am to a large extent merely taking dictation. Let's hope they don't start demanding their own blog. ;-)
Nicola Morgan said…
I actually think being able to be interviewed in character is a necessary (even if theoretical) skill. But I hope you don't set up a Twitter account for Maggie - I find it impossible and unappealing to have to talk to someone's fictional character in a real-life situation!
Andrew Crofts said…
Not American, Linda, no, very British as far as I know, which was a surprise.

Maybe, Nicola, I could bring Maggie to you in the same way that Barry Humphries breathes life into Dame Edna. I shall do some wig research.
Karen said…
Hi Andrew, I think blogging on your character's behalf is a great way to get into their head. I often tell my students to keep a 'pretend' diary for their character for a week so they can get to know what makes them tick, and I have a friend who signs herself into private chat rooms and has conversations with her characters.
Andrew Crofts said…
Thanks Pauline. Maggie is a child of the seventies and could remember having posters very like this on the walls of her first bedsit.

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