Writing a book set fifteen years in the future presented all sorts of opportunities for cool new technology, major societal changes, and a much more interesting question—how could I potentially change over the course of fifteen years?
When I started writing the book, I was finishing up my MBA, my first child was just born, and I was feeling unhappy and powerless in my job situation. I intended for my main character, Cora Broussard, to be an idealized version of myself.
Despite my intention, Cora took on a life of her own and ended up afflicted with some major flaws. Most notably, she drinks significantly more than I do and is probably an alcoholic. Sure, I drink more than the CDC recommends, but Cora definitely has me beat.
Cora is moody, arrogant, and self-absorbed, yet lacks self-awareness. She’s constantly working hard to feed her insatiable desire for pleasure but is perpetually dissatisfied, despite the fact that she has a very nice life.
So how are Cora and I different? How are we alike?
The fictional Cora and the real Lisa were both born in May of 1984 at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was born May 6, Cora was born on Mark Zuckerberg’s birthday, May 14th. I’m not a fan or a hater of Mark, but I always thought it was cool we were born eight days apart.
Cora, like me, is a middle child with two sisters. Cora’s parents and their house are entirely based on my own parents (pictures below!).
I imagine that Cora and I look pretty much exactly the same, but Cora is much slimmer. While I was surprised to learn via beta reader feedback that not everyone wants to read about someone getting drunk all the time, I’m certain that no one wants to read about someone’s struggles with an extra twenty pounds.
The names Cora, Simone, and Drake, are all baby name suggestions that my wife vetoed. The names of all other characters in the book (with the exception of Jane whose name was selected by my real life wife Caitlin) are selected from lists of popular baby names from the year they were born. I purposely gave Cora a four letter first name and French last name, just like me.
Other similarities: Cora and I are both introverted, severely claustrophobic, married to a woman and the parent of two children (a boy and a girl), and live/d in Chicago (I’m still there and have never lived in San Francisco).
In addition to being much more of an arrogant self-absorbed alcoholic than me, Cora also ended up being less emotional and creative than me. I’ve always been someone who appears stoic and level-headed, but inwardly, I’m very sensitive and emotional and need creative outlets.
Ultimately, I found it difficult to write as Cora. She’s similar enough to me that, I was constantly asking myself what I would do, what I would think, how I would feel. The tedium of this comes across in my writing. In my prequel, I write in first person alternately as Cora, Josh, and Ashley. When drawing insight from my imagination rather than my own narcissistic thoughts and desires, my writing is much stronger.
And now for the fun part – pictures of me in places referenced in the book.