Friday, April 17, 2015

Harvesting Characters from Real Life

Posted by: Unknown

I love people.
We are so wonderfully imperfect with beautiful flaws and confusing inconsistencies that make for the basis of rich, intriguing characters just waiting to be creatively shaped into romantic fiction. Walt Whitman best described the gist of who we are as humans when he wrote “Do I contradict myself? Fine, I contradict myself. (I contain multitudes)” – Song of Myself. We are an amazingly unique species with great capacity for love, kindness and joy, while also knowing what it is to taste betrayal, revenge and despair.

One of the key lessons I learned from my graduate school studies that applies to my life as a writer is that all behavior is communication. Everything we do, even more than what we say, tells others about who we are, what we believe in, what’s important to us and by same process, what we find to be unimportant. Our behavior speaks for us in ways we likely don’t even realize. I love to ask the silent question, “Why? Why are they doing that?” 

Think about the hours of time spent, or not, on personal care. The image we want to project to the world makes us sometimes wake up two hours early in order to shower, blow dry, curl, apply make up, try on different outfits, etc. Think about that friend who loved laughing too loudly at a not so funny joke in a social situation. Did you ever know anyone who was fakely, overly effusive in their “thanks” to such a degree that it made you uncomfortable? I know you’ve seen the guy who walks his dog, lets it poop, looks around quickly to see if anyone noticed before leaving it there for you to step in. What about that mom who was always checking to make sure the kid standing alone by the fence, waiting, had a ride home after soccer practice when every other parent had left without thinking about it? But why? To me, following the trail of “why” is the most fun part of developing characters. A friend of mine complained about a woman who was letting her four kids run around bothering people while waiting in line at a food truck. There are conclusions that can be drawn about this woman. Am I right? We’ve likely all experienced this situation where you want to tell this woman to please control her kids, but likely, she’s feeling completely and totally out of control, and not just with her kids but with her life.

Cecilia “Ceci” Bradford, is a trauma ward doctor in my new book Dreams of a Wild Heart, book three of the Dreamwalkers series. The inspiration I had for her came from real life doctor Tara Margarella who could be seen on a couple of different doctoring shows, one of which was Trauma: Life in the ER. I did as much of a study of her as I could, watched her movements, facial expressions and overall attitude as she interacted with others. She was confident, sure of herself, calming, and able to handle any crisis that came through the double doors. Being able to see the behaviors of this female doctor let me more fully complete who my character was, envision her, and develop a story around her.

Ceci is a twenty-six year old doctor who discovered what it was to lose at a young age. Since birth, she and Carlos had been inseparable, gradually turning into more than friends by the time they were in their late teens, but tragedy took him from her. From that point on, Ceci didn’t want to have time to think or feel. She kept busy. She worked to finish school early, complete her studies in medicine, learn how to do mixed martial arts, dance, rock climb, anything to keep the yawning emptiness at her side from taunting her. Then she meets Tabron, a soldier, dark and brooding, with secrets that are out of this world. Literally. She knows that she feels a spark, for once, after all of these years, and that behind his stony fa├žade are hints of tenderness and need. What she doesn’t know is that she’s about to find herself immersed in intrigue, betrayal, and a people’s desire for a better future on an entirely different planet.

Thanks so much for spending time with me. I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever encountered people with interesting behaviors out in public?
Purchase Links:
Blurb/Book Description: Dr. Cecilia—Ceci—Bradford

I dance, rock climb, and have mastered Mixed Martial Arts, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn't enough. It doesn't keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my first love died. I was nearly seventeen.

Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up—or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn't end there. I'm being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.

Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he's told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine…

Book Three of The Dreamwalkers

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