Just in time for the holiday that celebrates family, author Heather Ashby is here to talk about family members—and other folks—who have been the basis for fictional characters in novels. Heather's Forget Me Not is a contemporary romance featuring a Navy pilot and a war widow, some of the details of which are drawn from Heather's own life. Thanks for joining us, Heather!
If you've attended any kind of author event, chances are good you've seen the sweatshirt that says “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” In many cases, it’s true. For example, I write Navy romance novels and my work in progress features a six-foot-four hot Naval officer based on the dean of students at my son’s former Middle School. Every time I see this man I picture him in a dress white uniform with Lieutenant shoulder boards, medals, and ribbons. I smile at him—but I don’t salute.
Many writers develop characters based on the physical appearance, personality, mannerisms, or life stories of people they know. Let’s see what several best-selling authors have to say about some of their characters’ real back stories.
Darynda Jones, author of Fifth Grade Past the Light, shared this story:
When I first came up with the idea for the Charley Davidson series, I was interpreting at a local high school. The principal there was this huge guy who looked like an ex-pro football player. Unfortunately, he didn't like me in the least. In fact, if the glares he cast my way every chance he got were any indication, I'd say he abhorred me. Not sure what I did to garner his animosity, but I wasn't about to let his malevolent (and possibly homicidal) disposition keep me from achieving my dreams. I needed a detective, dang it! And he had such personality, such charisma, I felt compelled to give him a badge and set him loose in my imaginary world.
So, Charley's Uncle Bob, a detective for the Albuquerque Police Department, was born. But the more I wrote him, the more Uncle Bob reminded me of my oldest brother (Who doesn't hate me! Woot!). As I continued to write this series (I'm on book 6 now), Uncle Bob evolved into this mishmash of the principal whose glares could melt the chrome off a '57 Chevy and my oldest brother who could also melt the chrome off a '57 Chevy, but he'd have to do it the old-fashioned way. Like with a chemical of some kind or a blowtorch.