Distractions in fiction reading. We all have some type of quirk or jarring moment in fiction that sometimes has to do with us or in this case the author creates the distraction. What I’m about to talk about really bothers me and that is when authors decide to incorporate real life characters who are related to them into their stories. In this case it’s James Lee Burke using his daughter’s name and likeness in his Dave Robicheaux series. If you’re not familiar, Alafair Burke is a crime novelist is in her own right. She’s the author of the Ellie Hatcher series among others and I usually enjoy her books.
The Jarring Moment
I want to say it was SWAN PEAK where Dave’s daughter, Alafair, is introduced in the story. She’s all grown up and like the real life Alafair, she’s a lawyer. I’m told the similarities don’t stop there either (Amazon discussion). It’s said that over the course of the books that the book Alafair character slowly evolves and takes on the characteristics of the real life Alafair. According to Brian (reader in the link whose read the entire series), Alafair was introduced in HEAVEN’S PRISONERS in 1988. The character was purposely named after his daughter. At the time she was a minor character. If she had continued to be a minor character in the series then I wouldn’t have had a problem reading the series.
Sorry but I find this kind of thing very intrusive. If James Lee Burke’s daughter wasn’t as prominent as her father then this post wouldn’t exist. Does this sort of thing bother you as well? Or is it just me? I realize that our own realities sometimes can interfere with our reading. That’s out of the author’s control sure but this is not the case here. In this case though, the author inserting someone who is related to him and not entirely fictional is a big problem for me. I wish he would have re-thought that idea. Where was his editor? Why was this such a good idea? As readers are we not allowed to use our own imaginations when it comes characters in stories? I don’t appreciate writers invading the space of readers like this. Ugh. What a bad move there.
Any thoughts on this? What kind of things throw you out of the story? This post was in part inspired by my discussion with Brian Baker (linked to him in the article above). He’s a regular reviewer at Amazon and is apart of the Vine program. He encouraged me to read the earlier books in the series. I’m not 100% sure if I will. There are just too many other writers out there wanting to be read and if they have relatives inserted into their stories then I am not aware of it. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.