The process of creating a character is like conceiving, carrying and giving birth to a baby who will, no doubt, have Mom’s nose or Grandpa’s ears. While I didn’t consciously model the characters in Mixed Messages or the subsequent novels in my Malone mystery series after myself or anyone else, there are bits and pieces of me and people I know in each of them: a physical characteristic, a personality trait or a life experience that contributed significantly to who they are. For example:
Ann is the main character in Mixed Messages. She’s living with someone who suffers from the disease of alcoholism (I did too) and even though Ann and I are totally different people, I can relate. Personality wise, she reminds me of a good friend of mine who values her family and friends above all else and goes to great lengths to help and protect them. Ann even has some of my friend’s physical characteristics but she doesn’t look like her.
Marnie, Ann’s older sister, is five foot five (so am I) and she’s outspoken, a trait we share and one we’re both trying to learn how to temper. She’s a family law attorney, as is another good friend of mine, but that’s where the similarity between the two women ends.
David, Ann’s husband, is a composite of some truly wonderful men I’ve known who happened to be alcoholics. He exhibits similar behaviors and he experiences many of the same emotions as his real life counterparts.
Olivia, Ann’s landlady, loves to tell stories about the past. Some of her tales of growing up in Cincinnati are modified versions of stories that my mother, who is the same age as Olivia, has told me. But Olivia and my mom are completely different in every other way.
Lawrence, Olivia’s son, is a few years older than me but, as children, we watched the same shows on TV. He’s a baby boomer too so he didn’t grow up with computers and all of today’s technology; he’s had to learn it and embrace it in order to function in today’s world.
Louise, Ann’s mother-in-law, believes in a place for everything and everything in its place and, although my home wouldn’t pass Louise’s white glove test, I am, like her, a stickler for order.
Do you see parts of yourself or someone you know in any of your characters?