Writing a novel is like free therapy, according to Portia MacIntosh.

The only reason I started writing novels in the first place was as a way to tell my tour stories anonymously. I have been touring with bands since I was fifteen and, now that I’m in my mid-twenties, I have a lot of tales to tell … but I can’t without getting myself and my friends in big trouble. So, I decided to write a novel with a fictional story and fictional characters, and work the real stuff in there somewhere. The result would be an exciting and realistic look into the music business, written by someone with a unique perspective – I wasn’t working for the bands or a journalist trying to get dirt on them, I was their friend and that gets you a level of access most can’t even imagine.


I wrote a novel (How Not to be Starstruck) and a novelette (Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place) telling the tale of music journalist Nicole Wilde, and her time touring with bands. Something interesting happened as I was writing, though. It felt good to let it all out.

I was taking real stories and changing them to use as part of fictional tale, and changing them felt great. At first I was tweaking the details to anonymise the stories, but as I started taking my bad memories and making them more book-friendly, it felt like I was editing the reality. It sounds odd but now when I think about my unhappy memories, I don’t see them as being that unhappy, I think about the edited version and it makes me feel better about how things played out. Who needs years of expensive therapy when you can simply delude yourself into thinking things weren’t as bad as they were?

Another way writing my novels about the music business helped me is because it forced me to stop and take a look – really take a look – at things. Writing about just how immature Nicole was made me wonder about how well I’m growing up. After all, Nicole and I grew up in the same environment. As I wrote about her issues I soon realised that maybe I was addressing a few of my own, and as I wrote about people in the biz that Nicole knows, it got me thinking about why people do the things they do.

If you’re planning on writing a novel, I can’t recommend writing about something you know or have experienced highly enough. Not only does it give your writing a real insight into a situation that other people may not be aware of, but it forces you to stop and take a look at how things played out, why people did what they did, and how you can do it better in the future. You can’t really rewrite the past, but you can learn from your mistakes… and taking the time to write 100,000 words on the matter can be a real eye-opener.


Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 2.25.12 PMBeing best friends with a mega-star has its perks and Nicole Wilde, music journalist, laps them up. But when said friend, Dylan King, gorgeous lead singer of The Burnouts, has zero sense of self-preservation – once a drop of alcohol hits his blood stream ‒ and an inability to keep ‘little Dylan’ in his pants, it also comes with responsibilities. Now, Nicole has to track down Dylan in time to play a charity gig tomorrow. Half a dozen groupies, a haunted hotel, a tattoo parlour, a reality show runner-up and a crazy bed-hopping, sleepless night later – will she find him before the tour bus leaves town? And when she does, is it time to head home? Or to jump on the tour bus and go along for the ride! Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place is the fun and fabulous prequel to Portia MacIntosh’s How Not to be Starstruck.

When she was 15, Portia MacIntosh fell in with a bad crowd … rockstars. After disappearing on tour and living the rock’n’roll lifestyle for a few years, Portia landed a job in the music industry. Now in her twenties, Portia is ready to spill the beans on the things she has witnessed over the years. Well, kind of. If her famous friends knew that she was borrowing their lives to inspire her fiction, they would stop inviting her on tour and banish her from the inner circle. Then she really would have to rejoin the real world, and she’s still not ready. Portia only started writing novels to share her secrets, but then she realised she actually quite liked writing – maybe even more than she likes living on a bus with a bunch of smelly boys – and has since tried her hand at writing about other things.  


1 comment on “When a Character’s Personality is Close to Your Own”

  1. Fabulous article and i can really relate to this. I find I’m working out a lot of personal issues while writing fiction, although often my mind and the characters are dealing with very different issues. And I’m a firm believer of redefining your own reality by telling a different story, as the meanings we put on things can be much more flexible than we first think…

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