Character Casting Call

For those who knew me in high school some of the characters in “Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story” might seem familiar.  I ran with a group of four very silly girls who laughed so much that we almost failed any class we took together.  I rarely finished my lunch because they had me laughing ’til I fell off my chair almost everyday.  But they are not MG, Casey and Gina.  I am. 

Writers love to study people.  I’ve never minded long waits in airports because it’s such a smorgasbord of interesting people.  For a few years after college I worked as a temporary secretary and I loved it; but not the typing part.  I loved getting to see the inner workings of an office and the characters who work there for a week or two.  Then I got to move on to another office to observe and study.  All my life I have been gathering ideas, images, personality types; studying motivations and actions and words.  I’m putting all that stored data to use now, creating characters for my novels. 

My character Ben is a perfect example of this idea.  I pulled together my memories (and a few borrowed from a friend) to create him.  His personality and looks are a combination of at least four different men I’ve known.  I pulled words, actions and physical traits from each then filtered them through the story I had created in my mind.  The same is true for all my characters.  Although Carrie is me, the writer, she is not me in high school. 

Interestingly, this means that I get to be both male and female, good and bad, old and young. (And it’s so much fun to be bad.) 

Lately I’ve been writing the sequel, “Popstars, Friends and Lovers.”  It’s the story of what happened to two of my secondary characters, Steve and MG. On the days I write from Steve’s perspective, I feel more like a 19 year-old guy.  I may be running mommy errands, but I’m doing it while listening to hard rock and wearing torn jeans and chucks. I flipped a guy off who cut me off in traffic the other day.  That was definitely more Steve than Karen.  I have to delve into the character’s head to see the world through their eyes and sometimes a little of that bleeds through to my real life.  (My family should be grateful I write romance and not murder-mystery.)

Most of “Popstars” takes place when the characters are college age.  I am mining my college memories for scenes, character traits, words, actions.  This might make some people nervous (and you know who you are – ba ha ha ha ha ha).  But what you will actually see might be a glimpse of yourself, a piece of an event, a character that’s similar, but not exactly like you. Because the memories are mine and the story is mine and in the end the characters are all really part of me.

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