I'm Not Mary Sue. My Name Is Denise.

Her name is Mary Sue. She’s a time and space traveler, zipping from book to book, scene to scene, unmindful of physics. The woman is disdained throughout the literary world because Mary Sue is a thinly-veiled representation of the author. She appears when the author interjects a little too much of herself into her characterization.

I'm not Mary Sue. My name is Denise.

My life is not entertaining enough or adventurous enough to be at the center of a suspense story. My characters are so much more than I am. I try to write them stronger, smarter, braver, fiercer, sassier, bolder, more flawed, more compassionate, more sensitive, more emotional, more impulsive, more conflicted, and so much more interesting than me. None of them are perfect.

So when a reviewer assumes the thoughts and opinions of the character are my thoughts and opinions, I’m disappointed and dismayed. Actually, I’m a little bit wounded. How could someone who doesn’t know me assume I’m that shallow, mean, cold-hearted, stupid, uninformed, disrespectful, immature etc.?

One review, in particular, has gnawed at me for years. I've considered responding, but responding to reviews is considered a really bad no-no. So I've kept my angst to myself all these years.

First, let me say I have a tremendous amount of respect for law enforcement officers and I believe most of them are trying to do the job right. So... Just because I write a bad cop character doesn’t mean I think all cops are bad. Just because I write an innocent ex-convict character doesn’t mean I think all convicted felons are great guys. No, I don’t think all police officers treat victims of violence as horrible as the detective character treated my heroine.

I started writing because I didn't want to read about one more perfect hero or heroine. Human beings are not clones, and characters in books shouldn't be either.

If I didn’t write flawed characters, if all my characters were wonderful pristine people, if they all conformed to stereotype, my characters would be dull and flat, lifeless, and boring. 

Maybe I should put a disclaimer at the beginning of each book:

The opinions expressed in this book are the characters’ own and do not always reflect the views of the author.

As strange as this might sound, I don’t always agree with my characters. I don’t always approve of their behavior. I don’t always think like they do. I don’t always behave as they would. Sometimes, they say things I wouldn’t say. Sometimes, they do things I wouldn’t do. Actually, most of the time, they don’t act or react like I would at all.

I’m not my characters. I’m not Mary Sue.

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