The Frankenstein Next Door

Say you are a tall, willowy brunette with peaches and cream skin, cornflower blue eyes and an upturned little nose. When you laugh, the listener is reminded of merry children romping through a meadow, performing catch-and-release on butterflies. The average person would gaze upon you and say, “Ah. She is a package deal. Can’t imagine changing a thing.’

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How a fiction writer sees the world

Unless your observer is a writer of fiction. You will be scrutinized and your pleasing internal and external parts assessed as this Dr. Frankenstein of the literary world prepares to operate. The scalpel comes out and the dissection begins. Your limpid blue eyes will be tossed in a corner atop your pert nose, and your flawless complexion cast aside willy-nilly with your chestnut locks.

All the author really wants from you is your laugh.

It will be tucked under the pseudo-surgeon’s arm, hauled to his/her latest novel-in-progress and injected into someone’s great aunt. Or a vegetarian nun. Or the mad serial killer who duped everyone with her tinkling giggle.

The diabolical nature of the fiction writer is no respecter of persons or property. A neighbor child’s Spiderman boots will be handed over to a socially misfit detective. The novelist’s sweet grandmother, who uses ginger as the secret ingredient in her blue ribbon tuna casserole, may have it snatched away, only to be credited to an Albanian dictator. The college basketball star’s loose limbs, warm brown eyes and honeydew popsicle addiction could wind up in a haughty socialite’s cocker spaniel.

Writers hoard their ill-gotten plunder to use when (or if) they see fit. They stockpile dozens of eyes in all colors, shapes and luminosities, every conceivable nose, mouth and ear form, hair in every hue from the heavens above or earth beneath. They stash a massive variety of body types, strides, voices, hobbies, and clothing. You might be horrified to find your Great-Uncle Joe’s suspenders hanging next to your retired pastor’s false teeth and your librarian’s sensible shoes parked by your mail carrier’s misheard lyrics of ‘Blinded by the Light.’

Or, worse. You recognize your penchant for examining the ear wax you’ve extracted with the tip of your pinky. And the author has given it the soap-and-water phobic hermit with 98 cats.
No one is safe from this Frankenstein of a creator who slinks here and sidles there, ruthlessly collecting bits of this one and parts of that one and a soupçon from someone else. All to be force-fed into the lifeless character languishing in the writer’s imagination. A few complex maneuvers, some mishing and mashing and a huge jolt of imaginative electricity and . . . The Creature. Is. ALIVE.

Like Frankenstein, the novelist may take one look at their resulting wretch and run screaming in horror. Writing fiction is harrowing, folks. Please refrain from gathering the townfolk and setting upon your local author with torches and pitchforks. Remember. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely ‘coincidental.’

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