Character Inspiration – Meet the Voices in my Head #LifeBooksWriting

‘Inspired by’ can mean many things. A movie ‘inspired by true events’ may have little in common with what actually happened. So when I say the hero in my upcoming release, Wildfire Hurricane, was inspired by Daryl Dixon and Eliot Spencer, don’t expect to see a crossbow wielding ex-mercenary chef. Often my characters are sparked by a quirk from another fictional person—or maybe even a real one—but end up becoming someone entirely different. But that’s how it should be. I don’t want to write a carbon copy of Daryl. I want a man who can hold his own against whatever I, as an author, throw at him. That being said, here are some of the people—real or not—who have inspired my characters in some way.

Dash Ryder – Daryl Dixon and Eliot Spencer

Wildfire Hurricane is what happens when a squeamish romance writer gets hooked on The Walking Dead. It took me a while to see Daryl’s appeal, and I actually liked his personality better than his appearance. The man needs a shower. I took his asskicker hero approach and blended it with Eliot’s seething anger to create Dash, who somehow ended up being a poet. I don’t know where the hell that came from, but the bastard insisted. He gets what he wants.

2015-11-17 17.40.02

Simone Leveque – Michonne

Dash needed a strong woman to put up with his shit. When I named her Simone, which sounded like Michonne, I immediately got a picture of her. Yes, she’s African-American. Yes, I liked that. I’m more attracted to her than to Daryl, but we won’t go there. 😉

2015-11-30 14.32.09

Kurt Langston – David, my husband

Kurt first appeared in JT and Claire’s book, Let It Ride. When I made him an IT guy, I pictured David, the awkward, bumbling, sexy scientist from Friends. As I wrote him, he took on a lot of my IT guy husband’s personality, especially his Star Wars geekery.

Kurt

Destiny D’argo– Phoebe Bouffay

I’ve always wanted to write a Phoebe character. She’s my favorite Friend, and I love her goofy, free-spirit attitude. I originally imagined her as a blonde, but I didn’t have a name for her. A friend suggested Destiny, and I knew she was no blonde—and she wasn’t white. Like Simone, I couldn’t tell Destiny who she was. My women have minds of their own.

Destiny

JT Luck – JT Maxwell

JT Maxwell appeared in one episode of the short-lived TNT series, King and Maxwell, but he was played by my muse and favorite actor, Christian Kane, so I couldn’t easily forget him. I didn’t know much about JT Maxwell, so I mostly used his appearance for my JT. I have no complaints.

King and Maxwell Claires JT1

Alex Sheridan – Lindsey McDonald

My baddest bad boy was inspired by my all-time favorite villain, Lindsey McDonald, from Joss Whendon’s Buffy spin-off, Angel. What makes Lindsey so fascinating is his conflict. He’s not purely bad, but he’s definitely not good. He’s often described as morally ambiguous, and when one of my reviewers used the same words about Alex, I knew I did him right. Or wrong, as he’d prefer. Hell, Alex is just happy to get done.

Lindsey McDonald31 Alex

Will Barnett and Jack Wheeler – Eliot Spencer

Eliot Spencer, from Leverage, has a dark and troubled past, much of it a mystery. Speculation about his experiences appears in two of my favorite characters, Will and Jack. Their books are entirely different from each other, but they both keep dark secrets and have suffered enormous pain. Eliot helped me dig into their souls and bring their troubles to life.

Eliot Spencer34 Jack

Austin Sinclair – Lindsey McDonald/Christian Kane

My most popular bad boy was inspired by a ‘what if’ question. What if Lindsey hadn’t been recruited by Wolfram and Hart? I kept his nastier urges and explored the naughty boy charm that might’ve come to life if he’d taken another path. I also used what little I knew about Christian Kane’s personality to give Austin his dirty playfulness.

Christian Kane cute grin

Characters are the most important part of my writing, so I have to know them inside and out. Getting inspiration from another person helps, but it’s just a starting point. After the initial spark, they grow on their own, many times beyond my control. That’s when I know I’m doing them right.

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2 Comments

  1. This is neat! I like how you broke down who was inspired by whom and how their personalities changed as they developed into their own person.

    • Thanks! I especially noticed it with Dash because I originally wanted to write a Daryl-type, but he’s not much like him.

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