Do authors become their characters?

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

An editor on one of my Ambrose Lincoln books made a single comment that captured my attention and caused me to worry about myself.

She said, “I feel that the author is the character.”

Was she talking about me?

Ambrose lives in the shadows.

I prefer the sunny side of the street.

He has no past he can remember.

I have a past not worth remembering.

He has been the victim of primitive mind control experiments conducted during the late 1930s when America realized that was coming closer to its doorsteps.

Then again, I know all about mind control.

I’ve been married for a long time.

But I’d rather talk about Ambrose Lincoln.

His mind has been erased by doctors in a remote little hospital facility back in the mountains.

The doctors work for the government.

They attach electrodes to the brain and erase every memory.

At the end of each mission, those memories of Ambrose Lincoln are wiped away for good.

As I explained in a sequel, Night Side of Dark:

The facility remained as one of America’s most closely guarded secrets. It sat quietly back in a timbered valley on the edge of a desert. Wakefield made sure the clinic was accepted in the community as a rest and rehabilitation home for the wealthy scions of society who had come to partake of a high-dollar regimen of holistic medicine.

Dr. Wakefield had been an eminent psychiatrist and the country’s foremost authority on mind control, a frontier of medicine where few dared to venture and even fewer dared talk about. The government hid him away in the desert, let him hire psychiatrists and psychologists as mad as he was, and paid him ungodly wages to test young men with odd and often experimental drugs, hypnosis, and electrical brain stimulation.

Nine began the program.

Only Ambrose Lincoln had survived. Wakefield kept Lincoln’s mind lost and wandering in the deep recesses of a dark and ominous Netherworld, and he had long been reliant on the electric shocks that erased the man’s memory after each mission.

Lincoln no doubt feared them and dreaded them, but he once told Wakefield as they strolled the grounds after a treatment session ended, “Maybe one of these days, I’ll become the man I used to be.”

“That’s what we hope,” the doctor said.

“What are the odds?”

“A lot better than you might think.”

Wakefield smiled.

Lying was not as difficult as it once had been

Only the brain stimulation kept Lincoln sane. He wasn’t, but, from his conversations with Wakefield, Lincoln thought he was.

In the long run, it didn’t really matter.

For all practical purposes, the hospital did not exist.

The doctors did not exist.

Ambrose Lincoln did not exist.

Yet, in the eyes of an editor, he and I were the same.

Maybe that’s good.

Maybe not.

All I know is what Kurt Vonnegut once wrote: We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Please click HERE to find Night Side of Dark on Amazon.

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  • Hadn’t heard the Vonnegut quote, but it makes absolute sense. But it’s very hard not to pretend to be something, anything. ‘Fake it until you make it’ sometimes works. Other times it just makes you look like an idiot.

    Sorry to be MIA – lost my computer setup. Moving cross-country this week, and I messed my Mac up enough so I don’t want to make it worse by mucking about. Will seek out appropriate gurus.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I have been missing your comments, Alicia, and glad to see you have finally returned. When something happens to my computer, I am at the mercy of the tech gurus. I hope you find a good one who can streamline your writing world again.

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