Friday, June 27, 2008

Channeling my inner SEAL

All the time, people want to know how autographical SEALed With a Kiss is. Especially, they ask me if Pickett, the heroine, is me. The question is inevitable from people who know me. I deliberately gave her my therapy background, and some of my characteristics. I had to. With the mountains of research I had to do for my SEAL hero, there was no way I could research a profession for her too.

Nobody asks me if Jax, the SEAL hero, is me.

Which hurts my feelings a bit.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a stretch to see little Mary Margret hunched over her computer, still in her nightshirt at eleven AM as a totally buff, self-confident to the point of arrogance, SEAL.

But here’s the thing: he is. He is me every bit as much as Pickett is.

It’s a truism that male or female, we all have masculine and feminine traits. It was easy for me to see Pickett as myself. Jax--not so much. However, as the story developed I began to recognize many of Jax’s personality traits in myself. I was forced to realize he was coming from parts of myself—admirable and not—that I often stifle and disavow. I had to research Jax’s background, but I already knew his heart. I was channeling my inner SEAL.

I’ve never jumped out of an airplane, swum seven miles, or exited a submarine while it was underwater. (It’s called a lockout because, once the hatch closes, it can't be opened from their side. They have to stand there, in the dark, in this little, little chamber, while it fills up to the ceiling with frigid sea water. Yes, they have their breathing gear on—but still. E-E-E-E-E!)

However, none of those things are what the story is about.

The story is about people who come to a crossroads in their lives and have to make choices.

They have feelings. They form relationships which improve their lives in some ways but also show them things about themselves they didn’t exactly want to know.

And then they have some more feelings, and they make more choices.

That’s the story of my life.

So how much of Jax in SEALed With a Kiss is autobiographical? I’d say one hundred percent.

Am I claiming to be a SEAL--even an armchair one? No.

Let me explain how both could be true. Remember the submarine lockout? A lot of SEALs feel about it exactly the same way I do. Really. The only difference between us is that they do it anyway.


  1. Mary Margret--

    I love that you put so much of yourself into Jax; he's a great character and clearly was inspired by a great source!


  2. Hey, MM. Nice introspective blog today. I feel that creating a character is like having a kid. Of course they come from you, but once they are born, they take on their own lives that you can only help shape. I guess the difference would be that you do everything you can to make life wonderful for your own kid, whereas characters are more likely to be used and abused and trialed by fire.

  3. True, Christina, and like children characters are often very badly behaved.

  4. Hi MM,
    Wonderful thoughts about Jax and how we put parts of ourselves into our characters. I like how you said that he can have lots of you in him but still go places you wouldn't dream of going. I'm right there with you on the exiting the submerged sub. Yikes! Or, as my dad the airplane mechanic likes to say, Why ANYONE would jump out of a perfectly good airplane is beyond me! Fortunately for all of us, there are SEALS and other heroes out there who are willing to do what we'd never do!

  5. The thought of that chamber filling with water made my blood run cold. I got shivers. And to think my girls are planning on taking scuba lessons. Now I have to walk around with SEALed lips or I will say something I regret.

    Great post. I really enjoyed it.

  6. Great post, Mary Margret!

    And I absolutely agree, there's a little of me in all my characters, male or female. However, my siblings will still claim that my hero's bossy older sister is more me than any of them. ;-)


  7. Hi everyone,
    Nice to see all of you :P It's pesky me back to bother you, lol. I loved the post MM! I don't write but I can't imagine that there isn't some part of an author in every character they create. After all, they come from your imagination...just seems logical. On another note, I totally agree with Marie, if the plane isn't going down, I'm NOT getting out!! And even then...depends on if I think I can make it. Not jumping from any plane, no sirreeee!!!
    Hugs to all

  8. I think there's a lot of me in all of my characters--or, at least, the me I want to be!

  9. oh absolutely, Mary Margaret! Great post! I did do the obstacle courses, leadership reaction courses, confidence courses, water survival training, fired a tank, a law, set up a claymore mine...but couldn't throw a dummy grenade far enough to throw a real one...LOL...all stuff I never would have thought I could do!!! And yet on the other hand, I make teddy bears. LOL :) So in part, my characters are pushed beyond what they think are their limits, because I know they can do it if they have to! :)