For those of you who’ve read my novel The Autumn Castle, the name Hexebart will be familiar. She’s an old witch who lives in a well in fairyland. Her name is German for “witch-beard”. Why have I adopted it as a username? I do not know. It’s certainly not over-identification with the character: thanks to the wonders of modern cosmetic intervention, I have far less facial hair. I guess I just liked her and one day, when I am a billionaire and drive a Jaguar, I may have a personalised plate with her name on it. Besides, who knows? Perhaps I will come to resemble Hexebart as I grow older. One thing you can’t fight is dem damn wrinkles’n’shit.
But I am thinking, now, about the predisposition some authors have to over-identify with their characters. I shan’t name names and piss off influential people who write vampire/sexy-fairy stories (a few of you will know precisely to whom I refer), but there are quite a few “Mary-Sue” characters out there in SF land (and probably in other genres, but what would I know? If Peter Carey has done a Mary-Sue I’m hardly likely to read it). What is a Mary-Sue? Essentially, it’s a fictional character who is a leeetle too much like a wish-fulfilment version of the author, usually delivered without irony, and obvious to everybody except the author him or herself. I have read quite a few Mary-Sues in my time, both published and unpublished, and they still make me squirm. You don’t want to make your reader squirm, people!
So, to keep you busy while I’m off in the land of the long white cloud (though I will endeavour to drop in at least once or twice), why not take a Mary-Sue Litmus Test for the characters in your current project? Did you pass? Or perhaps you want to post comments about some of the Mary-Sues you have read over the years (please, keep it nice).
By the way, if you’ve never posted before, WordPress will ask me to moderate your first comment and that might take a couple of days, depending on my internet access in NZ.
What are you waiting for? Mary-Sue me!