Friday, August 7, 2015

Just a bunch of Characters

Last week I spoke about how the creative mind works and being able to create scenes in the spur of the moment. This week - where do I get these characters from?

If you've ever met me in person or anyone in my family, you will know I don't have to look far to find plenty of different character traits.  There are a boatload of feisty women, just as many hardworking men, and the occasional 'odd ball' (myself included).

Last year for mom's birthday.  My parents, siblings, and most our kids!

My mom, aunts, cousins, sister, nieces, and me - all feisty women

Before I go further, let me just add my usual disclaimer that all characters are fiction and not directly people.  There are bits and pieces of people I know, but not them verbatim.  Now, having stated that, let's continue....

I guess the easiest way for me to tell you of the characters is to describe a few from my books.  Starting at the beginning with Finding Home.

  • Avery - shocker but this first leading lady is none other than ME.  I didn't realize how much of myself was put into creating Avery until after I re-read the book. Her insecurities, hopes, and dreams, that adventurous spirit - all those are me.  Even her loss of a child, I know that pain directly.
  • Avery's mom and step-dad - based on my mom and step-dad.  Mom is strong, works hard, and gives tough love.  She's always wanted me to succeed, but I'll always be her little girl (even though I'm the oldest).  My step-dad really was born and raised in California, he's been a great addition to our family and a wonderful partner for our mother.
  • Though I'd love to say who inspired Damien - I can't ...he is totally fiction (all the good ones are!)...but a few traits of his, like moments of thoughtfulness, are based off the man I was married to when I first wrote the book.  The setting of San Diego was actually where we took our honeymoon and inspired me to write the story to begin with.

For Taking Chances, the characters were just as close to real life since this story was based off a past relationship.  From love interests, family members, to townspeople, there is a little something of everyone in there!
  • Dane - I actually did meet a man at a cook-out, we did enjoy time together, this story was very much my alternative version to reality as our relationship never got a second chance.  He (the unnamed hero) does know about the book and jokes often about it.  As a side note for those who have read it - YES, the lake mentioned was real, as was the magical night on the dock. ;)
  • Danny (Myra's son) - my son all the way!  Some of the dialog is from things he has said, mannerisms are similar, sense of humor, etc.
  • Myra's sister - my kid sister.  She is a wonderful mom to my nieces and nephews and I could totally see her coming over and taking my remote.  She's a brat like that, but I love her to pieces.

In Playing with Fire it was a mix of people and places. 
  • Batesville, Arkansas is just a few miles from the small town my grandmother grew up in.  I was able to visit that little town - Sulphur Rock - when I was a teenager.  There was very much a family oriented feel to the place (then again we were there for a family reunion so it was a week of all family time).  But I could also see where someone with no family could slip through.  
  • Noel's deceased mother - when writing her I imagined my grandmother and the things I hoped she would feel about me making changes in my life, even if she weren't alive any longer to be by my side.
  • Trent's grandmother was based on my sister's mother-in-law.  She is a wonderful woman who speaks Spanglish, luckily I know a little Spanish and can decipher when she switches languages in the middle of a sentence!! My brother-in-law was kind enough to read the Spanish portions to make sure I was saying things correctly!
  • The mean ex and his father - these hateful people were totally fiction, but based on some of the terrible things I have seen or heard in the news. 

In upcoming books I know there is a character based on at least one of my aunts ( or parts of all 8 of them), more family members, people I have (or nearly have) dated, people I've worked with, other characters from movies, even strangers of the street.  There are scenes that really have happened and others I WISH took place.  Writing is about taking what you know and creating from there....with the wide range of characteristics in my family and friends, the possibilities are really endless!

It's no wonder I have nearly 20 other books already outlined and waiting to be written!

This weekend I"m on vacation to northern Michigan to visit family and enjoy time at the lake.  I know I will have a pen and paper ready to jot down the different characters or scenes the next few days will bring. 

Never a dull moment!

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