Regardless of genré, all fictional book characters are born in the writer’s mind. Whether historical fiction, scifi, metaphysical, visionary fiction or any other genré, the character is either a faithfully reproduced version or a conglomerate of individuals the author has known or seen. How many times have friends, acquaintances, family members…or anyone who reads a book…quoted, in essence, the old song – “Who’s that girl?” – when they find that they can relate to the protagonist. Or antagonist?
My sister was (and still is) one of my heroes, as are my mother, father (may they rest in peace) and children, in some way or another. They are, or were, not perfect. Everyone has their bad sides, no matter how easy it is to forget when they are such awesome and admirable human beings 98% of the time! It is worth it to bear in mind, however, that there are two or more sides to every single person who has been born on this planet, and any writer worth his salt will be able to objectively access these when creating a book’s characters. Of course, this is only my opinion.
Let’s be perfectly honest; how do we define certain adjectives or adverbs as they might apply to a protagonist or antagonist – if only to ourselves? As for me, all of you who follow this blog or have corresponded with me have often heard or seen me say, “Mama always said…”, usually followed by some tidbit of wisdom. Elsewhere, I also relate stories and memories of my childhood, experiences with my own children, strangers, hospitals, employers and even my own attitudes and beliefs as an adult when describing something.
For example: “That character is like one of the people I used to work for; he has a good heart, but unlike my granny, he lacks the strength of character to do the right thing.” The character in question is built on memories of my boss and my granny, and probably with a few other character traits from others I have known.
Now read my books. You will find all of the above in the personalities and experiences of the characters I have given birth to. Sometimes those characters are patched together as though I was the long lost great-great-granddaughter of Frankenstein, only not so evil…usually!
The human mind is like a computer: data is never completely lost no matter how many times you delete and “Empty Recycle Bin”. It is from all the data that has ever been entered into the writer’s brain that the characters in their books, short stories or poetry and prose are born. Experience is how we learn and experience is what fuels our imaginations.
“Who’s that girl?” Well, that’s my sister and her compassion, my mother and her wisdom, my granny and her strength of faith, and my father and his boardroom persona. When I state in the Disclaimer at the beginning of my books, that “the characters in this book are fictional and created strictly from the mind and imagination of the author”, it is true. Mostly. But then, so it goes with other authors.