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by Donna Miscolta

“Why did you kill me off in that story?”

Some years ago my younger daughter confronted me with this question after she had read a story I had recently completed. The story is about two sisters. I have two daughters. My older daughter insists that she is the narrator in that story.

“It’s not about you,” I said to each of them.

Both were skeptical.

Another time, another story, the younger one asked, “Why did you make me a boy in that story?” The story included two siblings, this time a sister and a younger brother.

“It’s not about you.” I said again.

Again, skepticism.

“Really,” I assured them, repeatedly. I haven’t wanted to protest too much, though. Wouldn’t that just prove their point in their eyes? But not protesting enough would also appear to prove their point. Wouldn’t it?

Last summer, a month after my novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced was published, family members from along the I-5 corridor in California and across the Southwest gathered in San Diego for what has become an annual baseball weekend. I wasn’t able to attend, but my older daughter later reported back to me that there was much speculation as to which sister, cousin, aunt, etc. corresponded to which character in my novel. It was actually more than speculation. It was closer to absolute conviction. The evidence:

There are three sisters in my novel.  I have three sisters in real life.

There’s a young man who enters the lives of this family.  I have a brother who was once a young man.

There’s a mother and a father in the novel.  I have a mother and had a father.

There are some aunts and uncles in the novel. I have some aunts and uncles.

So there you have it. Irrefutable parallels between fiction and life?  Of course not.

And yet the conviction persists. When my older daughter, hoping for the definitive answer, asked which one of the characters was me, I answered, “None of them.”  Immediately, I added, “All of them.”

It’s the most truthful response I can offer.

Donna Miscolta
About Donna Miscolta


  • Aileen
    6:47 PM - 20 January, 2012

    Great response. I may have to borrow that one. 🙂

  • Erica Bauermeister
    7:54 PM - 20 January, 2012

    I’ve heard it said that the best way to make sure someone doesn’t recognize themselves in your work is to do the most accurate portrayal possible 🙂

  • Anita Feng
    12:06 AM - 23 January, 2012

    Ah! Thank you for this post. It was a stirring topic of discussion around the table at Hedgebrook one evening. One offered this quote (sorry, can’t remember who from): “If a writer is born into a family, the family is doomed.”

    Maybe one of you can remember who this was?

  • Chrys Fey
    5:11 PM - 15 December, 2012

    Those post was a delight to read!

    What people, especially family members, need to understand is that writers use what they know in their books. You have three sisters. That is what you know, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the three sisters in your book are indeed your sisters.

    Some of the characters in the series that I am working on were originally inspired by family members and friends of mine, but as I wrote the characters changed into their own people. I just know that I will have to explain to them after my books are published that the characters were (at first) inspired by them, but really aren’t them at all.

    • Donna Miscolta
      10:49 PM - 17 December, 2012

      Thanks, Chrys! I think our familes will always try to find themselves in our fiction. I think at times they might serve as inspiration, but once they’re in the story, fiction takes over.

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