What would you say is the single thing that makes life most interesting?

Okay, I agree, this is a level one-oh-one question. The answer’s obvious: People, naturally. People you meet in real life and people you meet in fiction. And as a writer, you know they’re not the separate entities they seem at first mention. For isn’t it true that every created character has been inspired by an actual person?

The protagonist in my Listed and Lethal Series, for example, real estate agent Honey Ingersoll, is patterned after not one but several real life women: A gorgeous natural blonde I envied all through high school who, like Honey, never cracked a book but had so much going for her, it didn’t matter. Then there was the outstanding student I once taught who worked nights so she could go to class days. It was a tough slog, but “nevertheless, she persisted.” Honey doesn’t strive for a college degree; she doesn’t even have a library card. But she sure knows the meaning of persistence. And I remember an elderly lady who once said, “I wish I sounded smarter when I talked.” Like Honey, she was bright as a diamond but didn’t realize it. The list could go on, but I know you’ve had much the same experience each time you struggle to create a memorable person.

Anyway, taking all this stuff, the looks, the struggles, the regrets, the perseverance, the chutzpah of gals I once knew, I mixed them together, squeezed them like modeling clay and ended up with Honey Ingersoll:

After Momma died, I left my daddy’s double-wide and rode into Eureka Falls, Arkansas, on the back of Billy Tubbs’ Harley. After Billy gave me a black eye just because he could, I walked right out and took a job with Saxby Winthrop, the town’s biggest Realtor. I learned a lot under Saxby, including a lot about the real estate business. I even learned to lower my skirt hems and my big hair, and to ditch my tube tops and cherry-flavored gum.  According to Sheriff Matt Rameros, what I’m doing is reinventing myself and that while it’s fun to watch, he doesn’t think I should change a bit. Now isn’t that the sweetest thing y’all ever heard tell of? I mean, isn’t that simply lovely of him?

            While I never knew a Honey Ingersoll before I sat down to write, I know her well now, and she’s great company--witty, honest, full of common sense yet always ready to face a challenge. No doubt if I was ever marooned on a desert island with no people around, I’d go nuts. Unless a notepad and a pen washed up on shore. How about you? Do you also find people, both on paper and otherwise, endlessly fascinating?


Karna Bodman said…
Oh, Jean, your character, Honey, sounds like a terrific composite for a great story. And you are so right that it's "people" who truly make life interesting. Then again, it isn't only people we "meet" in real life - there are so many that I "meet" in the pages of a good book, from Scarlett O'Hara to Jack Reacher. Now I look forward to "getting to know" Honey, among others.
jay gee heath said…

I love this line. Because I was wondering as I read it, exactly what she was learning...
"I learned a lot under Saxby, including a lot about the real estate business."
jean harrington said…
Karna you touched on two of my favorite "people," and Jay Gee, Honey never explains what she blurts out." Ha!
People are totally fascinating! I think that's why I ended up studying counseling years ago. Honey sounds fascinating, too. :D
Marcelle Dubé said…
Jean, I love Honey's "voice." She sounds like the kind of gal I'd count among my friends!
LynnetteAustin said…
I can't wait to meet Honey! She sounds fascinating. Nobody put Baby in the corner, and I'll bet they can't put Honey there, either! And I have to ask. Is there anything more fun than people watching--with maybe a little eavesdropping thrown in? :)
jean harrington said…
Thanks Marcelle and Lynnette, Yeah, Honey's fun and smarter than she looks. That's because she's a gorgeous blonde and, when you're that good looking, people tend not to take you seriously. It's a terrible problem in life--so I've been told. (Having fun here).
Elise Warner said…
Honey became real to me immediately. People are amazing.
Jean - you are the best at characterization. Your imagination is beyond creative when it comes to knowing the inside and out of your people.
This is going to be another great story to enjoy. You've dangle a tasty morsel into Honey's nature.
thanks - karen
Would we write at all if we didn't find people interesting? BTW, liked Honey quite a bit.

Mariah Lynne said…
Loved Honey....She's real and will be fun to follow.

Honey sounds like someone I'd love to know in real life!
Kerryn Reid said…
Honey sounds like a hoot! Has she hit Amazon yet?

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