I want to just put a little disclaimer here. I am a BIG Stephen King fan. So if you are going to be reading my blog, you might be seeing a lot of King references along the way. Now that that's out of the way, I want to use one of his novels as an example. Close to the end of IT, a whopping 1000 page novel about an evil terrorizing a small town, there is a group of six 12-year-olds: one girl and five boys. It's hard to explain/convey the exact rationale, but basically they came to the conclusion that they needed to rebuild their bond that made them so powerful against this evil and that the best way to do that was by having sex. So they all take turns having sex with the girl. Annnnd, another, earlier part of the book involves a 12-year-old bully getting a handjob from another boy his age. Pretty disturbing stuff. What does that say about Stephen King, though? Can we state that these reflect King's own desires? I like to think that King is in tuned with the flaws of human nature. When you turn on the news or look at the paper, things like this happen. Sixth graders getting kicked out of school for having sex, serial killers, pedophiles, babies having babies, etc, etc, etc. I try to be real when I write and that involves creating some characters that have very real (and very disturbing) thoughts.
On the flip side, though, I did talk extensively with someone who knows King and they said he's a very dark man and, as anyone that knows a wikipediable amount about him would know, he's had a lot of demons in his past: struggles with drugs and alcohol. And, coincidentally, he's arguably the greatest horror writer of our time. Eh, you be the judge.
When I sat down to write this post, I thought about Stephen King's (told you to expect it) The Dark Half. It is basically the story of a writer who has a fairly low level of success with his drama novels and when he decides to start writing horror under another pen name, his books become wildly successful. Eventually, this other personality that he uses to write with takes on its own life: a murderous psychopath. It's quite a good read and is probably one of King's more action-driven works, but it is still thrilling for what it is. I guess, for me, it brings up the question of just where exactly is that line? In the book, the psychopathic killer wrote great horror stories while the 'regular' writer couldn't when he was just writing as himself. Do you have to be a little nutty to create things that are bizarre?
Well, let's take the pedophile line as an example. Last time I checked, I wasn't a pedophile. But I do know that they exist. When writing this scene, I thought...hmm, what's a real and striking way to describe her youth, but yet convey that she is still attractive? And it is about 'striking' the reader. Depending on the genre, my job is to sometimes disturb the reader, or move the reader in some way that makes him or her uncomfortable, but not in an outright way. It's the difference between whispering to someone I love you and yelling it right in their face. And I have this middle-aged man, women problems, probably has a drinking habit, so what kind of response would he have to a young beauty? Well, he's also a character of SOME morality, so he wouldn't act on it but yet he can't control his desires. That's where the metaphor comes in. Do I have such desires? No. Do I know they exist? Yes. If I did have such desires, would I probably be able to write such a character better? Arguable. While I'm a firm believer of 'write what you know' I think that the imagination is a powerful thing and that writers can build upon their experiences to make something completely different: kind of how different elements come together to create life.
In conclusion...is there a conclusion? I don't know. I'm a weird guy...but I say that out of knowledge that everyone is a little weird in their own ways. My weirdness is my imagination. My characters range from Joe Smoes to religious saints to rapists, killers, wife-beaters, etc, etc, etc. But I, the writer, have a helluva lot of morals, so I would ask anyone not to take things that I write as a judgement of my character, but rather, maybe, a judgement of my imagination.