One evening a friend asked me about my writing. I talked about my surprise at how my gay angel character, Guy, seemed to win many readers’ hearts. And as the night flowed with much conversation and wine, I had an epiphany.
You see, back in the mid-80s when I moved to Sydney,
I met a man who was an aspiring artist. He sold his soul to his paintbrush, determined to be as successful as the many avant-garde creatives he admired. He quickly became one of my closest friends.
He had an awkward personality, and although he was liked by those who I introduced him to, his social graces were underdeveloped. This had more to do with the fact that he was self-conscious of what he said and how he acted, and this combination brought out the parent in those he met.
He was unique.
He was a guy who balanced part-time work, socialising, and art, making sure there was plenty of time for the latter, as this was his dream. So many hours were spent alone at the easel.
He shared several exhibitions with other artists, but there was one upcoming event he was really excited about – his own individual showcase in Perth. He never made this important event. He died of an asthma attack over the Easter weekend of 1990, one week before his important show.
In my novels, Guy the angel is awkward.
He is self-conscious. He brings out the parent in his friends. Yet this character is loosely based on a completely different individual. When I talked about Guy after many wines the other night to a friend, I started wondering if he was really my old buddy.
My artist pal was twenty-eight when he passed away. Guy is about the same age. Both are tall. And in the second paragraph of Drama Queens with Love Scenes, my angel is described as having “a vanilla hint of gayness”. My artist friend denied it, but if he had lived…
The last time I saw him was a week before he died.
He actually said “good-bye”. It sounded so final. This was strange as whenever we parted he’d always make the point of reminding me of our next engagement, which on this occasion, was three weeks away.
I hugged him and something inside told me not to leave. That little voice was encouraging me to stay the night and get drunk with him. But it was Sunday evening and I was catching up with someone else. I always regret not listening to my gut feeling.
The character of Guy developed into his own, but I wonder whether I really just channelled my old friend. Was there a possibility that my subconscious had bled onto my keyboard? And as writers, are we simply doing this all the time without even realising it?
CHECK OUT THE REVIEWS