Not all characters spring entirely from an author's imagination. At least, that's the case with me. When an author says "be careful, you just might end up in my book" they aren't joking.
There is some model or true to life person in many of the characters who roam the pages of my novels. After all, truth is often way crazier and more colorful than fiction much of the time. So, just between us, I'm going to divulge some of those inspirations. You won't tell, right?
For the most
part, my Love and Murder Series springs from my imagination. But not entirely. The hero in The Art of Love and Murder is Sheriff Chance Meadowlark. He started out as Lance...which happens to be my son's name. He also happens to be my son's height and build with a strong character for protection of the women in his life. When I wrote the first love scene, egad, the name had to change!
Book two, Southwest of Love and Murder, the heroine, Phoebe, is a murder/mystery writer who loves hippy/gypsy style clothing, lots of jewelry, and sex. Hum, well, she's my alter ego. And who better to model the hero after than Robert Redford. No, I don't know him personally, but it was his face I saw interacting with me, er, Phoebe.
A Legacy of Love and Murder, book three and set in Austria, is probably the purest of the series when it comes to characters. But I do have a close friend in Austria and with his help I threw in some German. He's also very good looking like the hero, Tobias Wolf.
My brother spent an awful night in a cheap motel and that one scene was inspiration for The Power of Love and Murder. I built Jake from my brother and my son. My brother owned a tile business for years and my son was a rock and roll singer in his own band for years. But another interesting character in the book is Vince Elams, an FBI agent turned hit man. A friend of mine, Vince Smale, asked if I'd put him in one of my books someday. Friend Vince is a big man and not a villain, but switching up his name did the trick. P.S. he loves the character.
Three characters in Sleeping with the Lights On do exist. I've changed them a
|Mom and Dad were the stars of Post-War Dreams|
little to fit the story, but they are very much the models. And I won't say which of them for sure. There was a fourth who had one minor scene...the jerk of a boss. Oh yes, I knew that man!
In other books, it might be a personality trait or physical trait of someone I've encountered or known in the past.
So, watch out! You could be in my book...let me know if you recognize anyone.
Find all of my characters on my Blog
or my Web Page
Fun post, Brenda! I loved the Phoebe character in Southwest of Love and Murder, and now I know she's you...sort of. :-) I also have borrowed from friends and acquaintances to draw my characters, including one former boss who was definitely and purposely evil in the story. I even kept the first name the same! (Wow, I wonder if that's some sort of Freudian thing.)
Hmmm, I've never created whole characters from people I know. Okay my younger daughter's long red hair for Ainslee in Wilde One. Several heroines have been runners like my older daughter, but it irritates me when heroines are in phenomenal shape, yet we never see them exercise. I had long, straight brown hair down to my butt when I was younger like Leah in Buried Truth. A reviewer said that was unrealistic. I beg to differ, but I won't go there. So, I guess I've used characteristics that are somewhat unique, but never the whole person. I find it fascinating that you do, Brenda!
Leah, you just reminded me I did the same thing in Sleeping. The guy only had one scene but he was definitely my boss. I need to go back and edit my post!
Jannine, the longer I write the less I use a whole character. I do what you do with certain traits or actions. But who knows, I might again...if someone presents that I think would make a great character.
Great post! I created Mad Max Davies as the person I would like to know. Maybe be. She's smart kinda like me. She's blond, not at all me. She's snarky. Guilty as charged. She's rich. Don't I wish. And she has the love of her life in Johnny, just like i do with Terry.
How fun, Betsy. And why not? We can be whoever we want on paper!
I'm relieved that those of you with characters shouting at you in your heads (that isn't me), aren't completely fabricating heroes, heroines and secondary characters, because I know I draw from real life, big time. Our voices are ours, our themes reiterating, our quirks are often played out in our novels. My tribute to Norwegians, LIE CATCHERS, is full of family names; many characters are built on folks I've known. I revel in my way of using real life to enrich my stories.
I use situations that have happened to me or dumb things I've done to add humor to my stories. Effie, the beloved, wacky grandma in my bear shifter stories is my skinny alter ego. I do write a lot of red-headed women. I avoid names of my sons and grandchildren. I have used my daughter's name and wacky characteristics as a secondary character in a book. She loved it.
You're right, sometimes reality just slips in.
We are what we write? I can't remember that I've ever crafted an entire character from someone I know. Bits and pieces of people are more my style, although I do rely heavily on those I know in certain professions I set my characters in for accuracy. I, too, have taken the worst of the worst characteristics of a nasty boss and such from my past to shape a particularly dastardly character. It helps when that emotion flows out of us and on to the page. As far as names, as I said on these pages yesterday, they do make a difference. I could never, ever name a hero or heroine after one of my offspring. Too much of the eeewwww factor involved. Revealing post, Brenda. Thanks for sharing.
Rolynn, I don't know how an author can't use some of her real life. Now that I have a few books under my belt, imaginary beings do spring up and talk to me. I think in the beginning the story would talk to me. Now, I use bits and pieces after a character creeps into my subconscious. Not sure that makes sense! LOL
Vonnie, the wacky things in your life do add color!
Margo, yes, I now avoid using close family names. But it's going to happen in my next series. There is a hero named Frank (my husband better known as FDW). I just couldn't name this guy anything else. He's not modeled after my husband as of right now anyway. I've visualized the sex scenes and if it will bother me and it won't. Who knows why? Anyway, right now I'm going with it.
Thanks, Brenda. I don't based my characters on people I know. And it's not just because I can get sued for that.
It's also because they aren't the kinds of characters I write about. No story fodder in my social set.
What about about those who hurt me? Or make me mad? Do I turn them into villains? Do I torture and kill them in my fiction?
No, I do something worse. I ignore them.
I change them up a bit, Mary Anne. No real person is perfect for the page unless you're writing an biography. A couple of them in the beginning of my career were close but most of mine are only bits and pieces.
I love the stories of the people behind the characters, Brenda! I don't usually base my characters on people I've known, but I am planning to use my ex-brother-in-law as the basis of the villain in my next book. LOL
Ha ha, Alison. Good thing he's already an ex.
I would, Brenda. Go with it, I mean. Why the heck not!
Fun post, Brenda. I use bits and pieces of people I know or have met in my characters, but never a whole person. I did use someone who'd hurt us badly as a villain in one of my books. Not the name or any identifying characteristics, though. That was very cathartic. Mostly I use good traits or funny incidents. Vonnie has me beat on the latter.
I will admit to one character, early on, that was so close to the person from real life that a reader asked me about it. Knocked me over with a feather that I would meet someone who actually knew my character. I didn't write derogatorily or anything, but who knows what the real person would think...especially if you don't ask permission? The character was such a bigger than life, unique person, I couldn't resist.
LOL, I often use 'real' people as inspirations for my characters. I definitely use celebrities (or sometimes pics I find on the internet of regular people), to use as 'models' more or less. I don't intentionally model any of my heroines after myself, but I do find some of my likes and dislikes creeping in. :) I'm almost finished with The Power of Love and Murder. I need to check out the other books in the series!
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