Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Story vs. The Writer

Mocha Memoirs Press's thriller writer, Jessica Housand-Weaver, knows a thing or two about story. Her tale, THE SCREAM OF THE SIREN, sent shrivers and frightened readers and critics alike. In her blog post below, she discusses the orgins of her stories and characters.
The Story vs. The Writer
by Jessica Housand-Weaver

After reading a great story, we are left with a sense of anticlimax and disappointment that it has ended. No matter how awesome the ending, we hunger to be immersed further in the storyworld. This leads to a certain fascination with the writer. We feel close to them because we have been privy to what exists in their mind. We empathize with the writer and desire to continue the dialogue.

We want to ask: how did you create such an absorbing story? Or in the case of some horror writers, who, as creators of such terrible worlds, seem even creepier than their stories—what is wrong with you?

How much of writing is fact and fiction has been the speculation of readers for centuries. This speculation, which helps bring readers, writers, and characters together, is almost as enjoyable as the story itself. Like the ‘mad scientist’ stereotype, or the ‘unstable artist’ (think Van Gogh), writers truly are a basket case class of their own. Surely, a ‘normal’ person, or one with ‘normal’ experiences, could not concoct the sheer complexity and twists involved in storywriting.

I concur, with just a slight modification—a ‘normal’ person would not want to.

We writers are not ‘right; in the head. By this, I mean, we are swamped left and right in our
minds with ideas, experiences, and possibilities that we just have to tell you. We have a communication
disorder of a sort, a kind of communomania. We are strangers who share intimate secrets with our
readers without ever speaking or touching. We enjoy the solitude of our communication artform but
need to connect with you; in fact, we can’t stop.

Our characters are complex conglomerations of fact and exaggerative fiction. They are all of you, all the people we have ever loved or despised in the upgraded 2.0 story version. We build off of the emotions, personalities, and experiences we have had in our lives and decorate them a little bit to make them more palatable, especially for readers longing for something a little different and less mundane than their everyday life experiences. In essence, we are escape artists… and we are taking you with us.

As a writer, it can be a little amusing (even awkward) when family members, friends, or readers ask questions about my personal life after reading a piece like my thriller, The Scream of the Siren, published last year by Mocha Memiors Press. Readers want to know, who the characters are really. They find certain physical or name traits of individuals that appear to match up with the characters in the story. A favorite character to do this with has proven to be the love-maddened antagonist in The Scream of the Siren, Alejandro. Readers wonder if he is based off of a real person; my husband sometimes gets funny looks.

Again, I like to think of my characters as pieces, little pieces of anyone who has ever made an impression in my life, taken completely out of context, and mashed up into one juxtaposed mess that I then interject with all the things I have to tell you (remember, I suffer from communomania). While some aspects of the story, the main character, and even Alejandro do have very strong parallels in my real life experiences, writing is, in the end, what I like to refer to as quantum communication—sharing with you pieces of possibilities out of what already exists.


  1. Jessica. What an excellent post. You got to the heart of what writing is/can be for many of us, especially in the realm of characterization.

    Thank you for sharing.


  2. Great blog post, Jessica! I really enjoyed reading.