Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Am Not a Murderer (Alissa Grosso)

Some oft-repeated writing wisdom says that authors should write what they know and many writers (myself included) follow this advice by peppering our books with details drawn from our real lives. A character's description might come from someone you happened to see in the coffee shop. Fictional towns may share a lot of details with places you have actually lived. And both main and secondary characters might have some of your own quirks.

This is all well and good until friends and family members who have read your fiction recognize you in the story. The lines of fact and fiction are suddenly blurred, and they mistake your novel for a memoir.

My second novel Ferocity Summer was set in a fictionalized version of the town where I lived in my teens and the characters attended the same high school I did. Was it an accurate depiction of my teenage years? No, not in the slightest, because it wasn't supposed to be. It was a purely made up story, not a memoir disguised as a novel.

This is why I'm a bit worried about my latest novel, an adult thriller called Girl Most Likely to Succeed. It's full of murder and shady characters and a whole mess of details I've drawn from my
personal life. Take the main character, for instance. She's a vegetarian, who lives in a crappy house in the Poconos and works in the children's department of a public library. Guess who else was a vegetarian who lived in a crappy house in the Poconos and worked in the children's department of a public library? That's right, yours truly.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to set things straight. I am not Katrina Parker. Sure, we have some things in common, but there are way more differences than similarities between the two of us. Katrina, like the novel itself, is a work of fiction.

And while we're on the subject I feel like I should add that one need not be a murderer to write dark and twisted books full of death or a literal monster to write a horror novel. Writers, as it happens, are a pretty imaginative bunch. It means we're very good about making stuff up, even if we do pepper our tales with stray facts.

Alissa Grosso writes YA  and adult novels. You can find out more about her and download a free novella that is also not at all factual at


  1. Well put. Sometimes I tell people I get paid to kill annoying people. After enjoying the look on their faces, I clarify that the death occurs on paper.