NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012



WHO IS YOUR CHARACTER CHANNELLING?

Confession time. I once wrote a whole novel just so I could kill a character. She was based on a woman who had stolen my boyfriend. It was cathartic, and fun (oh, so much fun). I was young and inexperienced and didn’t realize you could get into Serious Trouble doing that. Fortunately, it was a lousy novel and never saw the light of day. :-)

Since then, I’ve learned discretion. Now, I borrow traits from people I know, not the entire person. People I don’t know, too. That woman with the oversized black sweater and the skinny legs? Looks like a raven when she walks? Great look for the mother of my main character. The boss who does that weird clicking thing with his tongue when he’s concentrating? Would fit perfectly on my teenage character.

It’s seductive, really. I keep a notebook to jot down the quirks I spot. Sometimes a total stranger will inspire a whole new character thanks to an odd habit. I once had a neighbor who would always wait a beat too long before answering a question. It was disconcerting. Off-putting. But boy, it made a great character trait for a police interrogator.

Nowadays, I rarely remember the origins of my characters. My subconscious does all the heavy lifting and my “people” only emerge when they’re ready. For instance, I’m not really sure where Kate Williams, the chief of police in my latest mystery release, The Tuxedoed Man (the follow up to
The Shoeless Kid), came from. She’s tough and rational, but is riddled with insecurities and is a soft touch for the vulnerable ones.

I catch a glimpse of my aunt in the way Kate always wants her hair out of the way; of a man I once worked with in her impatience for people who waste her time; and of my sister in the way she raises an eyebrow oh-so-sardonically.

Who knows who else is hiding in Kate? Me, maybe? Do you have origin stories for your characters?

GIVEAWAY: In honour of
The Shoeless Kid becoming available as a pocket book from World Wide Mysteries, I will give away a copy to one person who comments on this blog today. I'll post the name of the winner here tomorrow.

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19 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, Marcelle, I'll never tell. LOL There MAY be a hint of an ex-boyfriend or an in-law in some of my more villainous characters. *bats eyes innocently* :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

I'm sure any resemblance is pure coincidence, Anne Marie!

Kathy Ivan said...

Subconsciously I'm always sticking character traits/flaws from people I know into my characters. Helps make them more real--and only I know where the original tics come from (or should I say who them come from)?

Great blog, Marcelle.

Elise Warner said...

"Don't get mad, get even." Isn't wonderful to sit down at your computer and release all that anger? Of course, I became so fascinated by someone I thought wasn't particularly nice that I've used different things about her twice. I think she had the last word.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Kathy, have you ever had someone come back to you and ask if that particular character was based on her/him?

Elise, I had the same experience. One of the best short stories I ever wrote was when I was trying to exorcise an evil, evil man from my psyche. Turns out I had more sympathy for him than I realized!

Kathy Ivan said...

No, Marcelle, I have had anybody as me if a specific character was based on them. I did have somebody as me though, if a specific character was based on a certain person (and they were). LOL

JB Lynn said...

I actually once killed off a character solely because I couldn't stand the actor playing his part....really wasn't fair to the character.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Kathy, I guess it's not a big deal if the character is nice...

JB, where's the fun if you can't kill off characters who irritate you?

Maureen A. Miller said...

If any of my characters possess eccentric quirks, you can be sure they are a reflection of me! :)

Rita said...

I'm with Anne-Marie. I take people that I, cough, cough, don't really care for and put their traits and even physical appearance into villains.
BTW I love your covers

Marcelle Dubé said...

Maureen, I had heard that you're eccentric...

Marcelle Dubé said...

Rita, I'm sure none of us here will ever tell you you. Unless I appear in your books.

Thanks for the compliment on the covers. The Shoeless Kid cover is by the fabulous John Kicksee (www.kixbydesign.com). I love his work! The Tuxedoed Man cover I created myself, using his work as inspiration.

Wendy Soliman said...

I use the names of people I don't like, or who have done me a disservice, and make them baddies. Such power! No one's noticed yet. Well, if they have, they're not saying.

Shirley Wells said...

LOL, thank goodness you didn't get into Serious Trouble with that early novel.

If anyone annoys me, I give them the Evil Stare and beginning writing up their slow and painful death. Great fun. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Honestly, Shirley, this is SO much better than going to prison!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Well, I've drawn the names and Wendy is the winner! Contact me off list, Wendy and we'll figure out how to get The Shoeless Kid to you. Congratulations!

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, Love the idea of writing a novel as catharsis. Gets the anger out of your system and leaves you more mellow? Hmmm. Cheap white wine is quicker. I didn't say that, did I? It must have been my alter ego speaking. Good luck with yur new release!

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, Love the idea of writing a novel as catharsis. Gets the anger out of your system and leaves you more mellow? Hmmm. Cheap white wine is quicker. I didn't say that, did I? It must have been my alter ego speaking. Good luck with yur new release!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Jean!

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