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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Author Insight: Fictionalized Friends

Have you ever based a character in part or fully on an actual person? If they read it, would they recognize themselves?

"I sometimes pull in bits and pieces of people, quirks and that sort of thing, but never someone's full personality.  The characters are usually pretty vivid in my mind so it would be strange to view them as a real person I know.  They need to react to things organically in the story and, for me, I think it would be hard to let them do that if I were basing them on a people I know." - Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society.


"Yes! A character in Across the Universe--Harley--is based on a former student from when I was an English teacher named Charlie. The whole story is on my website here. (Password: seekthetruth)" - Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe.

"So Shelly uses the lives, personalities, and philosophies of the great Romantics: Byron, the Shelleys, and Keats, so in that case, yes, but I never base whole characters on actual living people. I think that is a dangerous game. I’m sure, however, that bits and pieces of real people show up in my characters but never so much as to be wholly reflective of any one person. " - Ty Roth, author of So Shelly.

"Not consciously, but most of the characters are usually a combination of several people. I did include one of my critique partners in my new book – it’s just a minor character, butif you know her, you’ll recognize her." - Cynthia Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

"I’ve put some of the colossally stupid things my ex-boyfriends have done into books, because those things need to be immortalized for the world to see. (When I say colossal, I mean COLOSSAL.) And I put a friend’s shirt into a book. I needed a really cool shirt, and I thought, 'Hey! I’ll borrow J’s shirt! He’s the best dressed person I’ve ever met.' That shirt really was cool. It had mangoes on it. I wanted to steal it, but I’m pretty sure he would have noticed since he was, you know, wearing it." - Carrie Harris, author of Bad Taste in Boys.

"Hmm- I think I have used descriptions of real people that I've seen (strangers) as characters, in short stories. But I have never tried to 'write' a person I know into a story." - Maurissa Guibord, author of Warped.

"A few details here and there. But no, I don't think they would." - Hannah Moskowitz, author of Invincible Summer. 

"I consciously based 12-year-old Ariadne in Cold in Summer on my then 12-year-old daughter. She said that the only unrealistic part of the book was when Ariadne thought of something snotty to say and thought better of it. My daughter said, 'I would have said it.' I based Telemachos and Brax in King of Ithaka on my son and his friend, but I had no idea that I had done it until my husband and daughter pointed it out, and they were exactly right!" - Tracy Barrett, author of King of Ithaka.

"I based the physical characteristics of the character Natalie from Rain Is Not My Indian Name on my might-as-well-be little sister Kathryn. I think the line is something like: She looked like a china doll and dressed like a lumberjack." - Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Blessed.

"I'm not sure anyone I know would recognize themselves in my books, although my main characters do tend to sound like me.  But I definitely cannibalize the people around me, taking a little bit of Person A, a quirk of Person B, a mannerism of Person C and mash them all together." - Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess.

"Well, bits of real people pop up, sure, but I don't base characters fully on real people. That sort of destroys the illusion of the world being 'real', to me, and besides, characters seem to have their own will and evolve from however I initially plan them." - Jaclyn Dolamore, author of Between the Sea and Sky.

"I'm sure there are lots of traits from real people that show up in my characters, but I don't do this on purpose. On a conscious level, I try to stay away from basing characters on real life people; this seems to have too much potential for hurting a loved one's feelings." - Inara Scott, author of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates.

"Never on anyone else, but some of my own personality quirks definitely leak into my characters. (Clare’s sarcasm for one.) I think it’s more fun to create a character from scratch." - Kim Harrington, author of Clarity. 

"There may be people who *think* they see themselves in my characters. When Mom read my book, for example, I was worried she'd think the parents were modeled after her and Dad. Of course, they weren't. I've never based a character on an actual person, though I have woven in a couple of homages to people I've known. Would they pick up on those? I don't know!" - Sara Bennett Wealer, author of Rival.

"Oh, no, I don't think so. I have on occasion written a character and realized later they reminded me a bit of this person or that person, but I've never deliberately made someone a character. I don't use pictures of people to determine what my characters look like or help me describe them, either. My characters look like themselves, I never have anyone in mind when I write except them." - Stacia Kane, author of City of Ghosts.

Find out Thursday if the other authors have ever based a character off someone they know!

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