In a recent interview about my upcoming novel, I was asked the following question: Waking Under Water is told in the first person. I found Mia’s voice to be so authentic and haunting. How did you create such a believable persona? Is there part of yourself in Mia? My answer: There’s always a part of me in my characters. So yes, readers will see some of my own understandings and experiences in Mia. My identity, my way of being, often seeps into the characters or portraits I create. It seeps into everything I write.

When answering questions about voice and persona, I always turn Roz Ivanic’s Writing and Identity because she explores so well the concept of the “autobiographical self”—the identity people bring to the act of writing. Of the autobiographical self, she writes that it “captures the idea that it is not only the events in people’s lives, but also their way of presenting these experiences to themselves which constitutes their way of being” (24). And while Waking Under Water is not autobiographical, my fictional characters often capture real pieces of the self. Ivanic also draws an analogy between fine art and writing, noting how both reveal “many fascinating issues of identity” (2). She asks: “What can be attributed to the author [artist], what to the reader, and what to the community?”

What parts of your true self do you reveal in your writing?


“Painting myself for others, I have painted my inward self with colors clearer than my original ones. I have no more made my book than my book has made me”— taken from Montaigne’s “Of Giving the Lie.”