What a great topic! I like to feel that my characters are original, and not merely disguised versions of me. I got insulted when I was first published, and gave free books to some of my sisters-in-law; and one told me she couldn't finish the book, because every sex scene made her think of her brother and me, and that was gross. I was a little bit insulted, since my heroes are interesting men, but not my husband.
That's part of why I like writing romance. I get to fall in love with the book hero, and experience wild sex with him, but I'm also not cheating on my husband. See the thing is, I was a bit of a wild woman before I got married. So what my husband's sister is thinking is me describing scenes with her brother, could just as easily be me combining my fictional characters with things I experienced at other times in my life.
Some of my earlier books were based on the lives of women I know. I worked one's divorce into one of my books, combined with fictional people and events. I exaggerated another's husband's faults, and gave my bestie a better hero for her...in my book, at least. And I reworked some of the events in another friend's life, into the story of one of my characters. I wanted to provide a happily-ever-after for all of them.
So it's inevitable that parts of me would creep into my characters, just like parts of my friends are in some of them. But the physical descriptions are often based on people I've glimpsed in public, or in magazines and catalogs. I use their faces to inspire me into creating the hero of my dreams, and the strong heroine he falls in love with.
That's another thing. I won't ever write about a sweet, virginal, innocent, because, quite frankly, I don't think I was ever innocent. I didn't lose my virtue, as much as I gave it away as soon as I found a volunteer to take it. Turns out I took his as well. (Good trade, in both our opinions.) My heroines don't need to be rescued, because they have a life of their own. They don't want to be dominated and abused, nor do they feel incomplete without a man and/or a family. After the HEA, many of them end up married, and some are even pregnant. But that's just because that's usually the normal progression of love.
As far as my voice, one of my oldest friends, from back when we were in college together, then roommates afterwards, says that she likes to read my books because it's just like sitting around and talking with me. Not that we talk about sexual exploits (not anymore, anyway!) but she says I write the way I talk. I figure only someone who has known me for that many years, would know that. And she buys all of my books.
As far as teaching me anything, I do think I've learned some things from my writing. I've learned to be more compassionate towards men, by experiencing their feelings as I write about them falling in love and ardently pursuing their chosen woman. And when my heroines have exotic, exciting jobs, doing things I'll never be able to personally experience, I vicariously enjoy being them. But then I do that when reading as well. Only now I'm writing what I want to read. And I'm embarrassed to admit that when I reread any of my books, I laugh and cry along with the characters, as if they didn't spring from my imagination, and I didn't know everything there is to know about them.
Raul looked around himself with surprise when they walked out of the same door he had walked in through a short time ago. Then he had been oblivious to anything other than his own bodily discomfort and his anger at the world for his predicament. Now that he had a full belly and a pot of coffee in him, he was impressed at the beauty of the natural surroundings that he hadn't noticed before.
"That is one beautiful lake," he said as he tried to keep up with the blond with long legs that she seemed to enjoy stretching in exercise. He hadn't been doing his usual exercise routine lately, figuring that there would be time enough to get himself into great shape before the movie actually started filming. So he was huffing and puffing as he raced to keep up with the woman who rounded a small building that held canoes and other stuff that he didn't recognize.
She stopped and leaned back against the wall to point at the lake.
"See how pretty the sun looks when it bounces off the...hey! What are you doing?"
Raul had caught up to her then done what he always did...tried to kiss the pretty girl. Only this pretty girl turned her head then moved so that he ended up hitting his face on the wall. He looked at her, aggrieved.
"I was trying to kiss you. What else?"
He was taken aback. "Uh, because you're pretty? And because I figured that's why you invited me out here away from that nagging old bag..."
Veronica's hand shot out and slapped him across the face.
"What was that for?" He rubbed the sore spot that proved it wasn't just her legs that were in good shape.
She advanced on him, her eyes narrowed, "Don't you ever call my grandmother an old bag again! Don't you even think it! You are a conceited pompous jerk with an ego the size of an elephant! Though I can't for the life of me see what you are so proud of...a string of lousy movies that consisted of you taking off your shirt early and often? Dialogue that sounded like it was written by a love-struck twelve-year-old? I have no idea what Jared sees in you, but whatever it is, it must be buried pretty deep!"
He retaliated, "Until you got all high and mighty I was willing to overlook the fact that you look like you eat more of your own pie than you should, and you people up here obviously have no idea that there might be any benefit to using makeup. I was willing to lower my standards to throw you a bone...my bone to be exact. Who knows if you'll ever get another chance to take a famous movie star into your bed? But if you're going to be all nasty and stuff, then forget it."
Veronica giggled, which grew to guffawing and continued until there were tears in her eyes. He stared at her, his anger beginning to fade as her infectious laughter made him smile.
"What's so funny?" He demanded when she stopped for a breath.
"You! You actually thought I wanted you to kiss me? You really thought I was so hard up to get laid that I'd even consider a spoiled, out-of-shape, drunken drug-addict like you?"
He stopped smiling.
"You've probably got more venereal diseases than I can even name! You've been linked to every female you've ever made a movie with! I think you should just be honest about things and make porn, but since the money's better where you are, you're smart to ride the gravy train while you still have your good looks. Lord only knows that won't be much longer, as hard as you are working on killing yourself."
He glared at her, "Are you done yet?"
She nodded, "Uh-huh. I think that about says it all."
"Why did you people agree to put me up if I'm such an asshole?"
Veronica shrugged, "We love Jared and he asked for a favor..."
To find out what other authors thing about the questions in the prompt, go to the next author's blog on the list: