Friday, May 17, 2024

Borrowing a Spark

I honestly say I haven't built out a character based on a celebrity. Entirely. That's because I'm using characters they've played, instead. Or I pick a look from over here and aspects of a personality from over there and munging them together to generate my characters. I might isolate an attribute and assign it to someone in one of my books, but to pick up a person wholesale, change a name and a hair color and call it good? No. Can't. I think it's mostly because I don't actually know these people - the celebrities, I mean. I only know what I get to see and that's the characters they play. I'm aware that those characters come from the actors, themselves, but - eh. Welcome to me overthinking. Maybe it's the acting degree. But. If you want a list of the people I've taken as inspiration - that's a loooong list. A long list. It's a list populated by a sordid history of aesthetic crushes. 

Lupita Nyong'o, Tom Hiddleston, Brendan Frasier, Taika Waititi, Vico Ortiz, I mean. I could go on forever with this. There is nothing I've seen, music I've heard, or places I've been that hasn't shown up in a story.

My favorite tea shop turned into a tattoo parlor for Nightmare Ink.

Anyone who works out how to force blogger to let me insert a two -column table into the page and put photos in it gets a cookie. I doubt it'll even let me do that with html at this point. ARG. Anyway. 

If you read any of my stories and you think you recognize a personality quirk in a character, you may well be right. But I'll deny it like mad and tell you it's entirely a product of my own imagination. Yet the truth is that when I admire someone's body of work or a specific look they cultivated for a role or a shoot, it's impossible for me to subsequently create something of my own that doesn't pay homage to whatever struck me in the first place. I guess I'm borrowing a spark from someone else's fire to see if I can't kindle a fire of my own.  

Thursday, May 16, 2024

No Time for Tea

A lace tablecloth with a microscope sitting beside some packs of empty blood tubes and a white porcelain tea cup with a grey rose etched on it

Last week’s topic was our fantasy dinner parties and who we’d invite. Yeah, I missed it. So my image for the week is my favorite tea cup to make up for it! 

This week we’re talking about real people we’ve based characters on. I think to some extent every character we write is a conglomeration of people we know or have met. How else would we write relatable characters? 

The only character I’ve truly based on someone is actually another character: John Hammond. From his cane to his white hat and clothes as he stepped onto the Jurassic Park screen, John Hammond. He fit the side character I wrote in The Mars Strain, Dr. Dresden. 

One of my author highlights was when a friend of mine was gushing about my audiobook and asked me if I’d pictured John Hammond from Jurassic Park when I wrote Dresden. I was so excited that she’d pictured him how I’d written him! Especially because I didn’t say who he looked like, I wrote Dresden’s looks into the story. And she picked up on it perfectly! 

As for basing a character on someone I know in real life…I can’t say I won’t ever do it, because that’s basically ensuring I will at some point, but it’s not an intentional goal of mine. I prefer my fictional creations to be bits and pieces of those I know and of myself. My goal is to write characters you can picture sitting next to at a restaurant or hanging out with around a campfire. And yes, using a real person template would do that, but when we read we want larger than life. So why not glue parts of multiple together to create a character that’s bigger than all of them? 

How about you? Have you based a character on someone you know? And the more important question, did they read it and recognize themselves?

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Models Who Inspired Characters

 This Week's Topic: IRL Person on Whom I've Based a Character

Beyond models whose images helped me focus on the physical aspects, I don't think I consciously developed a character's personality based on someone I know or a celebrity. {chin scratch} Maybe a quirk here or a tic there, but no one individual comes to mind.

What's that? You want to see the models' reference photos? Oh, well, pfft, yeah! I have to thank whoever chose this topic because it's been a few years since I reviewed these photos and I've fallen in love with the characters they inspired all over again. 

From my Immortal Spy urban fantasy series:

Character = Bix; IRL Inspo = I wish I knew her name

Character = Tobek; IRL Inspo  = Lasse L. Matberg: 

Character = Phobos; IRL Inspo = David Gandy: 

Monday, May 13, 2024

A Secret Celeb I Based a Male Lead on

 This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking about real life people (or celebrities) we've based characters on. 

That phrasing makes me laugh a little because I'm pretty sure celebrities are still real life people. It puts me in mind of some of my ongoing themes of reminding readers that their favorite authors are still people who get sick and have life drama. But I digress.

I don't know if I've talked about this openly, but in UNDER HIS TOUCH, the second Falling Under book (and this series is contemporary erotic romance, not SFF, fair warning), I totally based the male protagonist on a celebrity. I wanted a Brit man, one who was brooding and not conventionally handsome, full of smoldering sexiness. Guess who I based him on?

Neil Gaiman.

Yeah, yeah - I know. Only a book nerd like me would pick someone like that. I don't think it's at all obvious in the text to the reader, but he was the guy I envisioned when I wrote it. I even threw in a little Amanda Palmer easter egg, just for fun. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

SFF Dinner Date

Just so we're clear, the only reason I'm having a dinner party for writers past and present is so I can fangirl. Also, I'm going to need a massive table because this is just scratching the surface of the invitations I'd ship out (in no particular order). 

Martha Wells, N. K. Jemisin, Alice (Andre) Norton, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffery, Robin McKinley, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Nnedi Okorafor. 

Yeah, I know it's all female-presenting. Listen. I love me some SFF writers who are guys. I do. But I tell you what. I'm having a really great time right now reading stories that aren't written from within the confines of the white straight male experience (or just the white cishet experience in general). For that reason, if I started bringing the male-presenting folks to the dinner table, Dr. Chuck Tingle would be on the list. John Scalzi would be, as would Neil Gaiman, and boy howdy, wouldn't it be a hoot to have Sir Terry Prachett for the event? If I could suddenly learn adequate Mandarin, Liu Cixin would be there. 

Phew. At this point, I think I just opened my own restaurant and I'm not going to get to talk to any of these people, much less drink tea with them. Still. I'm so interested in the wealth of experiences and perspectives and the fun that could be had at these dinners. 

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Living the Dream

I used this photo (Thanks to Craig Chrissinger for taking it!) a couple of weeks ago, but it's too appropriate for this week's topic to pass up using it again. Our topic at the SFF Seven is our fantasy dinner party. We're asking which SFF authors and characters you’d invite to a soiree. 

The thing is, one of the best perks of being an author is getting to make other authors be your friends. So my fantasy dinner parties have mostly happened! Case in point: above I'm having dinner with Martha Wells, Darynda Jones, and Kelly Robson. Yes, it was a great conversation. I feel so blessed and fortunate that I pretty much get to have my fantasy dinner parties on a regular basis now. 

Last week I got to have dinner with Amanda Bouchet, Maria V. Snyder, Jennifer Estep, H.R. Moore, and Maria Vale. On another evening, I sat between Juliette Cross and Chloe C. Peñaranda, later joined by Carissa Broadbent. 

The one person I have yet to meet in person - and hopefully have dinner with! - is Neil Gaiman. But I do have his cell phone number and have chatted with him on the phone, which gives me all kinds of happiness right there. Since it's a fantasy, Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, and Vonda McIntyre could all come back from the dead and join us. 

My younger self would be thrilled. 


Friday, May 3, 2024

Self-Promo Allergy Cure

Oh lort. It's self-promo week. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my pillow fort with Perceval. Why, oh why does self-promo give me such a rash? I mean, yes, I'm mortified that I don't have a new book to promo. I hate that, and then, I think, there's a dose of self-loathing that dribbles into the mix, too, no matter how hard you try to tell yourself it's okay. You're making slow, steady progress. 

Spoiler alert: It never, ever feels okay.

So, I'll stare that icky feeling right in the face and say, hey! Can I interest you in a weird little tale that you'll either love or you'll hate? Damned If He Does is a light read about an incubus who gets tangled up with an asexual and her cat. Or is that the other way around?