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Some of My Favorite People

Some of My Favorite People
By Amanda Kabak • Issue #8 • View online

I’ll admit it, some of my favorite people are fictional. Harper Lee’s Scout, Robert Heinlein’s Friday, Michael Chabon’s Detective Landsman, Peter Hoeg’s Smilla, Fannie Flagg’s Idgie, and so on. Characters have been my constant companions my whole life, first just other writers’ and then mixed in with my own. I write for many reasons, but being able to spend so much time with the people I create is one of the big ones. I feel an intense closeness with my characters, whether they’re like me or not. It may come as no surprise, but I have a particular soft spot for Mitch from The Mathematics of Change, her sadness, anger, determination, and deep, almost feral love. Carol, the yin to Mitch’s yang, is one of my favorites as well, even though she drives me nuts. She’s so verbal and energetic and self-conscious.
I’m always writing or revising something, and my latest work in progress started as a story that wouldn’t stay a story. Three of my novels (two that are not yet published or complete) were like that: some somewhat intangible idea that kept spilling outside the boundaries of 5000 words or that had people I fell in love with. This new book features a lesbian couple–one white and one Indian–and I knew I was in for yet another multiple-year ride when I kept reading over their dialog, tickled with how they talked to each other. This is the strange thing about writing, how these people come through my brain but are not me, sometimes not remotely me. When things go well, they say and do things that are wildly surprising.
I spend a lot of my writing time thinking about what makes them … them. Their motivations and fears and idiosyncrasies. The way they’ve been marked by their own histories (that I’ve also made up, so that’s weird). Until I understand them better than they do themselves, my writing won’t approach the level of integrity it needs to be successful. And what’s successful? That you get drawn inside their skins and live their life with them, looking through their eyes, thinking with their brains, unmoored from your current life for at least a few minutes. Maybe you’ll even fall in love a little.
For those of you who prefer to ingest your stories through your ears instead of your eyes, the audio book version of Training for Love is available! I got to have some say in the woman who narrates it, and I think it’s as fun to listen to it as it is to read. You can find it at the link below.
I am at a place with a couple projects where nothing is going to materialize outside the confines of my own notepad and computer for a little while, but I was honored to speak for a little bit at a Pride Shabbat service at the congregation I grew up in. Given that it is pride month, I thought you’d appreciate an excerpt.
I always just called myself “in between,” which has meant that I could understand everyone in most ways and no one in others. But isn’t that the crux of the matter? Difference is real and important, but it’s also illusion. Underneath, we are all human. We share so many of the same fears and desires. We love and bleed and worry and celebrate. Our backs ache when we get out of bed. We want a juicier chicken breast. In the scheme of things, so little separates us, but we so easily let everything get in the way of seeing and empathizing with each other. I would never trade being on the outside for anything, but I managed to be smart enough to it me bring me back in to the fold at the same time.
I have to admit, I went a little crazy about a futuristic, eco, pirate, (light) romance series by Anna Burke. The two books (so far) are Compass Rose and Sea Wolf, and they are the most fun. Toxic seas and swamped coasts, pirates and mercenaries, class commentary, giant squid, and ships made with so much plastic harvested from the ocean and 3-D printers to make replacement parts. Oh, and rum. Lots of rum. The people and their struggles, though, are what really pulled me in and kept me reading along.
As always, I’m still loving any ratings or reviews for my books. A simple click on a star even without a review blurb goes along way.
Upended: Kabak, Amanda: 9781948559577: Books
Training for Love: Kabak, Amanda: 9781642473483: Books:
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Amanda Kabak

Writer of software and literature - Novels: UPENDED and THE MATHEMATICS OF CHANGE. Denizen of the in-between. In ardent pursuit of making an impact.

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