“Why did you kill me off in that story?”

Some years ago my younger daughter confronted me with this question after she had read a story I had recently completed. The story is about two sisters. I have two daughters. My older daughter insists that she is the narrator in that story.

“It’s not about you,” I said to each of them.

Both were skeptical.

Another time, another story, the younger one asked, “Why did you make me a boy in that story?” The story included two siblings, this time a sister and a younger brother.

“It’s not about you.” I said again.

Again, skepticism.

“Really,” I assured them, repeatedly. I haven’t wanted to protest too much, though. Wouldn’t that just prove their point in their eyes? But not protesting enough would also appear to prove their point. Wouldn’t it?

Last summer, a month after my novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced was published, family members from along the I-5 corridor in California and across the Southwest gathered in San Diego for what has become an annual baseball weekend. I wasn’t able to attend, but my older daughter later reported back to me that there was much speculation as to which sister, cousin, aunt, etc. corresponded to which character in my novel. It was actually more than speculation. It was closer to absolute conviction. The evidence:

There are three sisters in my novel. I have three sisters in real life.

There’s a young man who enters the lives of this family. I have a brother who was once a young man.

There’s a mother and a father in the novel. I have a mother and had a father.

There are some aunts and uncles in the novel. I have some aunts and uncles.

So there you have it. Irrefutable parallels between fiction and life? Of course not.

And yet the conviction persists. When my older daughter, hoping for the definitive answer, asked which one of the characters was me, I answered, “None of them.” Immediately, I added, “All of them.”

It’s the most truthful response I can offer.

Here’s a sort-of-recent photo of me with my three sisters and brother. You’ll find none of us and all of us in my novel.

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