Friday, April 11, 2014

Creating characters from scratch




          I’m often asked by media and friends how do I create my characters? At last count I have somewhere in the neighborhood of over one hundred spread over my nine published and three unpublished books. These characters have detailed histories and vivid personalities. Some are absolutely terrifying, some are adventurous, and some are tragic. All of my characters are like my children and they all have one thing in common. They are not modeled after any single, real person that I know.

          Each of my individual characters are a conglomeration, a mix, of people I’ve known and associated with over the course of my life. This naked truth always perplexes my friends who often tell me that a certain character is just like them in every way and how much they relate to that particular character. I’ve even had an old girlfriend (before I was married) get angry with me because she thought a character in one of my novels was too much like her. I had to assure my ex that the psycho girl (who needs to be highly medicated but isn’t taking her anti-psychotic pills) in my novel was not based on her, but on at least eight different people, most of whom I went to college with. I’m not certain if she believed me or not but I recently noticed that she un-friended me on Facebook..

          When I write I transform into and become my characters. I become the clairvoyant prostitute and the daring young man fighting an alien insect invasion. I am the disfigured 9/11 hero and the dignified young woman dying of cancer. I immerse myself in these characters and their worlds and live for a time in the fantasy. It would be hard for me to pretend to be someone I know as a person, if that makes any sense.