People often ask me where I get ideas for my characters. I find it difficult to answer because they seem like real, living, breathing people to me from the earliest stages of imagining a story.
Yet they’re not real people—they’re purely imaginary and not based on anyone I know. That’s not to say my characters might subconsciously contain snippets gleaned from people I’ve met over the years or even elements of myself!
But when I start a story, I do like to get a strong image of what those characters look like. I have fun “casting” them from actors and celebrities. My daughter is a great help, as she seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of hot stars.
For example, for my March release, Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride, I started off with actor Theo James as my hero, Tristan, Crown Prince of the fictional European principality of Montovia.
For my heroine, Australian party planner Gemma I cast actress Gemma Arterton.
(To see some of the images that kickstarted my imagination for the book, take a look at my Pinterest board, “Gemma and Tristan”).
But, as always seems to happen, as I wrote the story Tristan and Gemma developed into their own people. Theo James has brown eyes, Tristan’s are a vivid blue. Gemma began to look different to my actress muse, too, with cinnamon eyes and bright auburn hair. By the end of the book, my mind’s eye saw Tristan and Gemma as unique individuals with their own looks and personalities.
Here’s how Gemma and Tristan look on the lovely cover.
Then, of course, the nature of the reading experience means readers get their own images of how the characters I created look.
An early reviewer of Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride sees Tristan as Richard Madden and Gemma as Lily James, the stars of the recent Disney remake of Cinderella. I was delighted, as I loved that movie and those characters and the book definitely has a fairy-tale element to it. (I actually have Lily James as muse for a character in a future story…)
I love it when readers write to me to tell me they think one of my books would make a great movie and give casting suggestions for the hero and heroine. It’s such an interesting experience for me as a writer—because they have never been the same actors I have used as character muse for that story!
When you’re reading a book, do you ever imagine an actor, celebrity or someone you know as one of the characters? Or simply believe in the characters the author has created? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Make a comment if you’d like to be in the draw for an advance paperback copy of Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride. Please include your email address if you want to be in the draw.
Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride will be released on March 1, 2016 and is available for pre-order now.
Kandy Shepherd is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.
Visit Kandy at her website