Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beware: Writer in the room

I am one of those guys.

I observe you... you... how you touch your earlobe...
...notice how you sip your wine...
...amazed at how you smile when your eyes betray you.

It's my job. It always has been. I study people. Always have... always will. And now that I've declared myself a writer, I am even more attuned to your every move.

For me, it started very early in life. I was three and I imitated my brother, mother, father and anyone else that had a tick that made me tack.

By the time I was seven, I had discovered art. I was a caricaturists. You know--take a real person, identify the one or two things that stand out (nose, hair, ...) then exaggerate it. I was quite good. Many thought I'd be an artist.

Definitely an actor.

I had a knack for transforming myself into that person. My classmates loved it, my teachers watched me in horror as I imitated their voice, their stance and mannerisms... some that even they hadn't noticed.

This was before I discovered how to use words.

I've mentioned in the past that my grandfather was an author. I haven't done him justice. He was a Shakespearean trained actor. He was a stage actor for 25+ years, wrote half a dozen books, hundreds of poems, and thousands of articles. These are what was published. Don't bother searching for him. He was a giant amongst Armenians, and for some time, he was considered one of the great ones -- he singlehandedly translated Shakespeare's plays into Armenian. No small feat.

When he explained that I can use words to create engagement, something altered in me. Although I did not take on writing as my passion until later in life, it was always there, tapping it's feet. But my innate way of being--ever observant--never faltered.

My wife and I love people watching. Wherever we may be, we are observing, listening. We may be talking to each other, when one of us will whisper, "Did you catch what just happened on the table at 3 o'clock?"

It is for these reasons that I take characters seriously. I love authors that make the characters come to life. And in my stories, my characters are everything. It is their story.

So if you know me personally, I apologize upfront. You are--in one way or another--in my novels. I have captured some of your personality, some of your quirks, or the way you lie and think you've gotten away with it. I am a recorder. But I no longer do a stand up routine. Instead, I combine you with others and create a new character for my novels.

To me, my characters are real. Because you are real. When I read my dialogues, I read them out-loud, and guess what? The voice I use... it's yours.

When you read my work, if something tingles at the back of your neck, and you wonder, "Is this me?" please remember, it's not done on purpose. You are there, because I don't have a choice.

As Lady Gaga says, I was born this way.

Fight the good fight!

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