You'd think I'd be insulted. But I do understand their confusion. I've been known to talk about characters the same way. I spend months invested in these fictional people's lives, and they do feel like friends. As I write them, they get a bit more real and take on a bit more autonomy. It's not unheard of to have a character do something that I totally didn't expect. And like friends, I miss them when they're gone.
Last year, I wrote Carry Her Heart, a book about Piper and Ned—two everyday people who fell in love. Piper has a garden that puts mine to shame. She's forever puttering around it, adding new plants. The rest of her house is very organized and neat, but her garden...it gives the Secret Garden a run for its money. Ned...well, I describe him in the book as an every-man sort of guy. He's a put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of guy. They're just two average people who come together and find something that's anything but average. It's magic. When I finished the book, I realized how much I missed them both. And then I realized...there was more story to tell. It's not actually Ned and Piper's story. It's someone else that you'll meet in their book. But Ned and Piper will be a part of the new story. I got back from vacation a week ago and I've started working on the new book. It's like coming home...like going to a writers' conference and getting to meet up with all my 'invisible' friends.
I guess the idea of fictional (and invisible) friends seems natural to me...I grew up in books. My first real honest to goodness crush was on a fictional character! I reread some books so often, the characters did feel real...like friends. I don't think I'm the only one. Have you ever loved a character so much they feel real to you?