Follower Request: Where Do Your Characters Come From?
One of you awesome people out there (you know who you are!) was pitching me some blog ideas this week, and suggested talking about how some of the story elements (people, places) come to be in my work. What a great topic!
I got the idea for Rise of the Moon a couple of years ago, and it's fair to say that the final product is really not much like the original idea (except, coincidentally, for the sample chapter I posted for you last week). What did stay the same, though, are the concepts for my two primary characters, Lia Alvarez and Trey Allen.
I often pattern characters after people I know (sometimes an amalgam of multiple people), particularly former students. I always ask their permission and input as well, because otherwise it somehow feels like going behind someone's back, you know? I want to make sure they consider it a compliment to become a character. Someday that may change...I know that many writers take great joy in making villains out of people they don't like, even killing them off, but so far that hasn't happened with me.
Lia Alvarez was actually modeled from a former student of mine named Jessica, who was gracious enough to brainstorm with me on some plot points (as a wonderful writer herself) and character quirks. While Lia is not EXACTLY Jessica, I did carry over not only Jess' appearance, but also her charming fish-out-of-water-ness, her Gothic style, and her high standards for her own character and the characters of anyone she would consider worthy of her friendship.
From her first day in my Debate class, Jess stood out to me as unique and fascinating. Not in a creepy way, mind you...more in the way that you might find someone interesting if you were people-watching in a park or a mall. She always resonated with a powerful creative energy, and her involvement in both writing and drama were natural extensions of that. Both of those things do make it into Rise of the Moon as central parts of the plot.
I went through a phase when I thought I might like to be a portrait photographer on the side, and decided to do a project wherein I would shoot tarot cards (one of which, by the way, became the novel cover I designed...we'll see if I'm able to keep that as the final cover). Jessica, who was graduated and in college by that time, had stayed in touch with me and agreed to model for one of the cards (the Temptation card...in most decks, The Devil). I wanted to shoot it with a more playful flair, more mischievous than evil, and she was 100% the perfect choice. The concept was to shoot her as Lilith, the embodiment of Temptation. We even used live snakes. It was a blast.
Treigh Allen, on the other hand, slid into the second version of the story idea and, in my opinion, stole the show. Treigh is based on another former student from years ago, Shawn, who has become one of my nearest and dearest friends. He went from being my Creative Writing student to my teaching assistant, to my employee (during a brief stint where my husband and I owned a karate studio...Shawn was a black belt and became one of our instructors), to a dear friend who is practically family. Shawn's defining traits are his loyalty and his incomparable sass, and both of those elements brought Treigh to life. He was a joy to write, because writing dialogue and hearing Shawn's voice would literally make me laugh out loud as I was clicking away on the keyboard.
My favorite story associated with Shawn's involvement in this book is the time I called him to ask how Treigh should react to a situation I'd put him in. He'd been graduated for several years, and we spoke often. He'd been following the progress of Rise of the Moon, and was always down to share his thoughts. We discussed it for several minutes, hashing things out, and then Shawn came out with, "My love, you know I would talk to you about this all night, but I stepped out of a meeting to take your call, and I have to get back in there." I apologized profusely...it had completely escaped my brain that he worked from 3-10 p.m., and that I was interrupting his workday by calling at 8:30 at night. But here he was, taking my call, and just chatting away. He could have told me to call later, or that he'd call back, but he didn't even consider it. He knew what I was working on, and how important it was to me, and so therefore it was a priority for him, too. That's just the kind of guy he is.
The relationship between Lia and Treigh is probably one of my favorite things about Rise of the Moon. Because I was able to write about such wonderful people, the friendship between them grew into something truly beautiful. While they do both have love interests in the book, those are really secondary to the love and devotion they have for each other as the best of friends. Personally, I find those relationships more interesting in novels than I do romantic ones, and Treigh and Lia's bond is truly beautiful. I hope my readers think so, too!