My friend Andrew writes stories about repressed English professors trapped in loveless marriages. Everyone—including his coldhearted wife—thinks they’re about him.
“Why,” he complains, “doesn’t anyone understand fiction?”
“Dude,” I say. “You’re a repressed English professor trapped in a loveless marriage. Of course, it’s about you.”
(I talk to my friends like that, and they still love me which is one of life’s sweet mysteries.)
I wrote a book about a serial killer tormenting an isolated New England college. No one thought it was about me. They didn’t even entertain the thought that the heroine—tough, competent Helen Ivers—might be me. And in the sequel, when Helen and beautiful, mysterious Adair Wilson try to rescue conjoined twins from human traffickers, no one said, “I see so much of you in that book, Karelia!”
I’m on every page. The Admirer is a stay-up-late-reading, what-was-that-sound thriller, but it’s also a love song to my New England college days. Oh, the shadow of brick peeping out through the autumn leaves. Oh, the rugger girls. And in The Purveyor, Adair’s unimaginable return to health after illness is my hope for everyone I know who has suffered. And Helen and Adair’s 840-page love affair is everything I longed for when I was sixteen and I didn’t know a single lesbian.
Every time I went to a bookstore, I found a dictionary and looked up the word “lesbian” just to make sure I existed.
So, no, I don’t mind if you think it’s about me.
Karelia is the author of, The Admirer and The Purveyor and a teacher at the Golden Crown Literary Society, Writers Academy.