Most authors are really into their craft, and that’s a good thing. I mean, why bother to write at all if you’re not going to dive headfirst into your subject matter? Then there are the authors who are SO into their craft that it’s hard to differentiate between the author’s writing persona and the author him/herself. This, to me, is also a good thing. It shows commitment. It shows creativity. It shows that the author really believes in what they are writing.
It also can show a little bit of crazy. And crazy is just what writing needs sometimes.
I came across this book, The Mayflower People by Anna W. Hale (published in 1995) when I was weeding the kid’s non-fiction section of my library.
I flipped through the book to check for damage and general wear-and-tear, and I eventually came upon the author photo on the last page. I’m not sure why, exactly, but something about it really resonated with me. Perhaps it was the vulnerability and dedication the author displayed in dressing up like the very thing about which she was writing. Perhaps it was the fact that I could almost hear her telling the story of Thanksgiving, with all its controversies and historical inaccuracies, to a group of raptly listening children. Or perhaps it was just the awesome Pilgrim hat.
You see, Ms. Hale wasn’t just writing about Pilgrims. She played the part. She lived, breathed, and talked Pilgrim. Her author bio explains this in more detail.
Perhaps all writers can take a lesson from Ms. Hale. I suppose you don’t have to dress the part or actually live your subject matter to create a decent book, but maybe, just maybe, it helps to pretend sometimes – to become a character yourself, to try to see the world from the perspective of those you’re writing about. I’m not sure if she’s still with us or if she’s boarded that great Mayflower in the sky but, Anna W. Hale, wherever you are, I salute you.