The Jonathan Winters Syndrome

By Laura Drake

Do you remember the comedian Jonathan Winters?  I heard a story once that he had a hard time distinguishing his persona from that of his characters, to the point that he descended into an almost multiple-personality state periodically.  I got curious and looked it up on Snopes to see if it was true…no reference there, so for all I know, the story is urban legend. 

In any case, what got me thinking about this was my relationship with my characters.  Now granted, I’m a character driven author, but even so, I’m getting worried.

 My first novel was set in the countryside in and around Los Olivos.  I feel I could hop in my car right now, drive up, and visit Sam and her dog Rocky in the old Victorian she renovated.  If she wasn’t home (probably out riding her motorcycle with Rocky riding pillion in the milk crate strapped to the back) I could stop at the Farmhouse Café and have a cup of coffee with her best friend Jesse, who owns the place. 

 See what I mean?  These people became so much a part of my life that I’m starting to scare myself.  Am I alone in this?  Does anyone else get this attached to their characters?

 I wonder if information would have Sam’s cell phone number…

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