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How much of HASSIE CALHOUN is really Pamela Cory?

How much of HASSIE CALHOUN is really Pamela Cory?

August 18th, 2011

I have been asked numerous times by readers of this first book of the Hassie Calhoun trilogy: “Is the character, Hassie, based on your life?” or “Is this book actually a memoir?”. It is definitely not a memoir, but I would be lying if I said that there is nothing of me in the character.

The parallels/similarities are undeniable. I am a trained musician and for many years of my youth was an aspiring singer. However, I did not run away from home to a place like Las Vegas (or anywhere) and land in a place as exciting as the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and I certainly didn’t know Frank Sinatra, intimately or otherwise.

But….I did know someone very much like Jake Contrata — a definitive influence on his character. I will not name names, but anyone who really knows me, can guess who we’re talking about here. Thus, this character was very easy to draw and whether you love him or hate him, his “type” exists in all cultures, on all walks of life all over this planet. By the way, Jake Contrata is also loosely based on the actual General Manager of the Sands at that time — a man named Jack Entrater. If you’re interested, google him. He was evidently quite a character himself, although, purportedly, a gentle, fairly nice guy.

Hassie’s parents and family life are probably the diametrical opposite of my own life/upbringing. However, the characters of Jackson and Bonita Calhoun are most assuredly composites of people and relatives that have somehow influenced my life. Some say that this is a natural, “bound to happen” occurrence for a fiction writer. I wonder if any of these people who might have been drawn on recognize themselves.

I also believe (and hope that others agree) that I did not nor do not now possess the “Persephone” character flaw that drives Hassie to make stupid, ill-advised decisions and repeatedly go back for more. This character trait was devised from the archetype of Persephone, the Greek goddess, and not intended to reflect any part of my character, good or bad.

Focusing on the things that readers love about Hassie, I would like to think that I do possess some of the endearing qualities and thus, the subconscious of the author can’t help but influence these aspects of the overall character. That’s for you, the reader who knows me, to decide and I invite you to weigh in on that subject.

Ultimately Hassie Calhoun is a totally fictional character that I have enjoyed creating and have grown to know very well and to love. My greatest task is to bring readers into her life and to ensure that you MUST know more about her and want to follow her journey throughout the trilogy, even if you currently want to slap her.

So….do you buy what I’ve said about on subject? Please let me know.

2 Comments

  • Hi Pamela, Without personally knowing you, I would say that I buy what you have written here. One of the test readers for the first book I wrote was a work supervisor. New to writing, I was a bit dismayed when she told me that she saw a lot of me in the main character. Looking back, it makes me smile when I think of the introspection I went through over that statement. But, it happens. If we truly jump inside our protagonist’s head, it has to happen. If we write them deeply believable, incredibly human, and beautifully vulnerable, it has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere is us–the writers.

    I have your book on my “must read” list. :-)

  • Pamela says:

    Teresa, thanks so much for your comments. I, too, heard from early readers that they saw me in Hassie throughout the story. But when I thought about how invested I truly was in developing the young Hassie’s character, it just felt right to draw from as many credible sources as I could…. And a very strong one had to be me. I’ve even considered that part of me lived vicariously through some of Hassie’s experiences! After all, she thrust herself into a very glamorous world with some very exciting people.

    As I revise and fine tune the manuscript for the second book in the trilogy, I feel that Hassie has truly taken on a life of her own. The author will no doubt remain in the protaogonist’s head. I appreciate your belief that that is a good thing!

    Stay tuned for some advance promotion of the second book through the website and my author page on Facebook. I also see that we are following each other on Twitter. Please let me know how I can return the favor and support you and your efforts as a writer.

    Best,
    Pamela

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