It’s funny how often people who read my books will pick up on things before I do. I asked a friend of mine to read through the first twenty eight pages of “Bai Tide” for me and while we were discussing it afterward he said, “Well, Bai is you.” As though this was plain as day, a given, something obvious.
And yet, it didn’t seem obvious to me at the time. I was actually pretty surprised by it. Can you blame me? Bai is Chinese, a man, athletic, a runner, a spy, and terrifically smart. Sure, I’d like to see some of myself in Bai, but he’s me if I could reimagine myself into a completely different person, if that makes any sense. It’s spectacular fun being Bai. I wouldn’t have made it through 2 1/4 books with him at the helm if it weren’t fun.
Still, I never saw myself in him. Just parts of who I would love to be given the ability to try on a different life like a pair of shoes.
It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend of mine last night (a different one than the friend I mentioned above) who is wired much like I am that I realized that there really is quite a bit of me in Bai. His naive optimism, his drive to do the best he possibly can, his ability to focus on his goals to the exclusion of all else, the way parts of him seem poured in concrete, immutable and solid.
Well, and he’s a sarcastic goofball. But that was never a mystery to me. I always knew he got that from me.
I suppose it’s proof positive of the old trope about how you can see the fingerprints of every writer all over their own work. For better or worse, I suppose. It makes me wonder about authors like Thomas Harris, who created the incredible antihero Hannibal Lechter. What part of himself did he tap into to give birth to that monster, and how on Earth did that monster wind up becoming so beloved?
This explains why I feel so naked when I let someone read something for the first time. That’s why the first person to read a new work is usually Wes, for obvious reasons.
In other news, Wes and I just watched “Ender’s Game” for the first time last night. I loved LOVED that protagonist. Land sakes, what a fascinating person. I don’t normally read sci fi but I might just have to make an exception to read the book. Amazing.