One thing I love about writing is the fact that I get to scour the internet for people who I can loosely base characters off of.
I’m a sucker for old Hollywood so I find myself searching old actors & actresses before even heading to Pinterest for more modern ideas. There is just something about the Marilyn Monroe era that is so glamorous. The elegance from that era is a trait many people are missing in our present day and age.
That’s one of my favorite parts about writing using people I’ll never meet or old Hollywood, as my inspiration. The manners, the chivalry, the debonair looks & personalities. Unless you’re an old soul today, you don’t always have these qualities. The fact that very few of these older stars were famous because of reality TV or a viral sex tape is something I just love. Of course, they weren’t always perfect and there were other upstaging imperfections that some of the greats had back in the day that we don’t hear a lot about now (like sleeping with Presidents – unless of course your name is Monica Lewinski) but besides that, I feel such a breath of fresh air when I choose an old star or starlet who gets little thought or air time now days.
With my book Little Gray Dress (which will be released later this summer or early this fall) I went for mostly the mainstream actors as inspiration. People I thought readers would be familiar with. As I started writing my newest work in progress though, I realized how boring that is. We already see those people in the headlines every day, who really wants to read about a character inspired by them, too?
That had me changing my thinking on the way I write them as characters and who they should resemble. What kind of people did I want them to be? When people read my book(s) I want them to see a trend in my characters. Not because they’re all the same, but because of my personality. I’m drawn to an era I’ve never lived in. I live it in my imagination when I write the people I so adore. I listen to my favorite Sirius radio station when I write, Siriusly Sinatra, and it’s almost as if I can’t write an old Hollywood icon without it. It sets the tone and it helps me find my inner peace at the same time.
I have one book in the publishing process and one book that I’m currently working on. I’m excited to share my inspirations behind my leading characters for both books. I spent a lot of time searching for inspirations and creating characters so I hope I do them justice.
Little Gray Dress – publishing in early fall 2017.
Emi Harrison is sarcastic, self-concious and not the best at life at times (aren’t we all?). I wanted her to be more of the girl next door as opposed to glitter and glam. I chose Ashley Benson as an inspiration because she seemed very girl next door. I imagine she could pull off the part of Emi if asked. There is just something about her snappy character, Hannah, in Pretty Little Liars that reminds me of Emi, which helped write the character as well.
Emi has two potential love interests in Little Gray Dress. I based both of them off my own Hollywood crushes (shhh, don’t tell my husband). That in itself made it difficult to choose just one of them but somehow I did it.
Jack Cabot is Emi’s ex-fiance. They have history and drama. When I first started writing Jack I wanted to LOVE him, but I didn’t until about midway through the book. Now that I’m editing, I adore Jack. He’s successful, flawed and cluelessly sensitive at times. I love the relationship between him and Emi even when it’s at it’s worst.
I chose a young Gregory Peck as Jack’s inspiration, because they just jive as one being. Plus, I swoon every time I see this GIF.
Liam Jaxon – oh, Liam. There will be a spin-off of Little Gray Dress with Liam as the center. I fell in love with him from his very first line. He’s southern, gorgeous, polite and yet a tad bit distant. He’s one of those guys that pops into a story and grabs all the woo’s from you. Part of why I love Liam so much is because I’ve based him off of yummy Josh Duhamel. Yup, hand me a movie with Josh and I’ll watch it a thousand times over. Damn that Fergie is one lucky woman.
The Stardust Lounge – a work in progress.
Originally this manuscript was two separate stories but one day something just clicked and I’ve begun to merge the two together to make one fabulous funny, yet heart wrenching book. I’ve fallen in love with this book and all of the characters and to be honest I think this one will become something really awesome.
Ava Brooks is the main character. She’s become my favorite character thus far. With Ava I went old school. I tried to put a piece of my current life into this character and so I choose an old starlet that came from the same town I live in now. Myrna Loy. Myrna is gorgeous, well rounded and often was offered the more exotic roles in films. Ava is much like Myrna and she’s become a fiesty, over-thinking business owner who’s past comes to haunt her, literally.
I wanted Ava to be strong-willed, funny and troubled internally. Not over everything in life but over a past event she’s never been able to shake. I think I’ve created enough of a backstory for Ava that her book could go on for many sequals.
I knew exactly the kind of guy I wanted Ava to end up with and I didn’t want it to be a head over heels romance. I wanted it to be a struggle. I wanted inner turmoil and grief. I got it.
Cash Jennings was a man Ava knew before. He never forgot her but respected the last request she gave him. He doesn’t mean to surprise her at work but at the same time he’s not disappointed. Cash is manly, troubled and swoonworthy.
I had a hard time choosing between Levi Stocke (Y.U.M.) and Thomas Beaudoin (holy smokes ladies… dibs). I knew one of these two fit the image in my head and I only swayed in the direction of Thomas because of his smooth talking characters he plays on TV. If you don’t fall for him within a few paragraphs of meeting him, I’m seriously going to wonder what the hell is wrong with you?
There are so many more characters in these stories I’m still casting but these are my leads. Of course they won’t be identical to their inspiration. What fun would that be? I’ve given them quirks, bad habits, and for Cash, tattoos.
I hope you love them as much as I do. I’d love to know how you choose your character inspirations as a writer? Or, as a reader, what kind of characters stand out to you?