I’ve talked about the imago for my male characters, the photo I carry to remind me of the look of them, the research, the gleaned psychology, the innocently stalkerish obsession. It works.

But what, I was asked recently, about the female leads? Who are they?

That’s a little simpler. They’re me. All of them.

This post will probably be a little more self-disclosure than is necessary—or wise. My female characters in the last two works have been thorny. Difficult. Insecure. Unsure about how love works and how they fit into that eternal puzzle. With a sometimes befuddled instinct to live the life of the giving heart.

As I said: Me.

That’s probably more than anybody needs to hear…but isn’t one of the first tenets of writing “Write what you know”?  That these women find some greater understanding by the end of the book, that they become more aware and comfortable in that awareness…that’s me, too. The madness, the snark, the uncertainties…and the gifts. All me. The best and worst of me. A laying-it-out-there that is the most honest self-awareness I can muster.

We spend our lives trying to come to some small understanding of who we are in this changing, mentally fickle organism. As writers, we get to work it out not in therapy but in chapters. Maybe no writer is secret. Maybe it’s mostly all out there on the page. With embellishments and exaggerations, certainly. But us. Our blood and skin. Our hearts. Our quirks. Souls in words. An endless hope in the possibility of love. The deepest truest things that connect us to others.

The secret me. Open to the world.