Rustling Up Characters

I’m often asked where I find my characters. Are they based on people I know? Nope. But they are based on people I don’t know. For instance, in a subplot, heroine Corrie Locke is hired by basketball superstar, Ty Calvin, to find his missing lucky charm. I’ve never known any professional sports stars. But I did have a brief encounter, a brush with one. It was enough for me to want to base a character on him.

A few years ago, I waited on the first tee of a local golf course with my junior golfer child. Superstar Alonzo Mourning approached us from behind and asked if he could play through. In golf speak, that’s, “Mind if I go first? I’m in a little bit of a rush.” He asked so politely, so kindly, that he left me with a lasting impression. Of someone who treated others well, of an animal lover, a gentle role model, one who was bent on doing the right thing. I have no idea what Mr. Mourning is really like. But I had a strong notion of what my basketball player creation would be like. Kind, thoughtful, generous, and yes, an animal lover who would go to great lengths for his animal and human friends. Would I have created the character without that brief encounter? Probably not.

In another brief meet-up, I had a brush with an actor that inspired me to create Corrie’s best friend and possible love interest, Michael. This actor was one I already admired. Meeting him in person only solidified that admiration.

I was in Westwood Village, home to my alma mater UCLA and Stan’s donuts (my favorite donut shop and Corrie’s as well). I spotted Zachary Levi going into a coffee store. I hopped out of the car and struck up a conversation with Mr. Levi. I can’t remember the content, but let’s just say he was marvelous, and again, the impression was unforgettable. Of an intelligent, personable, and energetic individual with a ready smile. And yes, he too was kindly. He made a point of introducing his companions and, well, for those of you who’ve read my book, you know what Michael is like. Many readers have listed him as their favorite character. Every time I wrote the Michael parts, I thought of Zachary Levi.

Not all of my characters are based on brief encounters. But they are based on impressions. From real life and photos…in magazines. My favorite photos appear in the French publication, Point de Vue, because they feature European royalty, well dressed and expressive. I can almost hear them speaking. The perfect ingredients to conjuring up characters.

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8 years ago

Dear Lida, I feel like you are one of my best friends. I read your book I think 3 times. I like Michael too. I can hardly wait for your next book. Thank you.

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