December 5, 2011

Living. Breathing. Characters.


People often ask if an author based his or her characters on real life people or on true events. For me, and I’m guessing many other writers, the answer is definitely yes…and of course, no.


Me & my sweetheart at
Disney's California Adventure last summer.
I don’t think I would ever take the characteristics of one single person and mimic them one hundred percent, probably not even eighty percent. No one enjoys a crazy ex-boyfriend running around the media, or even your hometown, shouting, “She’s purposely slandering my name out of bitter, woman vengeance!” And even worse, you could run the risk of offending someone you actually like and care about. Plus, it’s much more fun to create a new and exciting personality than it is to copy someone.


My brother and niece keepin' life fun on Halloween




It may be difficult to completely avoid your friends and family wondering in the back of their minds, “Was that person or part of the story based on me? There was that one time when I slipped while holding a goldfish and accidentally swallowed it…” I think it’s okay to let them wonder a little bit though. Writing can be tough work. We need to dig up the bits of humor and fun wherever we can find them. 


However, making up a completely new person out of thin air would be impossible, at least for me. When I write, I feel it. I feel emotions and excitement and frustration. Every single character has a piece of me inside them, whether it’s obvious or not. I love to live inside their heads and really get a sense of what is driving them forward.




Me & my BFF in High School.
She was a major social butterfly!
In Deep Blue Secret, the first book of my Water Keepers series, Sadie James is basically the lovable girl next door. I’d like to think of myself as somewhat lovable too; at least I hope we have that in common. We both love music, tacos, and the ocean. But she’s a social butterfly with an outgoing, charming personality that everyone adores. I’ve tried to embrace that hidden side of me over the years, but this definitely was not my strong point at her age, and it’s probably still not. I was incredibly shy as a teenager. 




Me & my big sisters back in the day.
Aren't they beautiful?!
The outgoing part of Sadie comes from my two older sisters, my best friend, and all of the other beautiful, smart, talented girls I grew up with in California that I always wished I could be more like. I put some of this jealous, insecure side of me in Heather, Sadie’s best friend. Although, she’s not even a little bit shy.


Me & my dad at college graduation.
My hero!






Even the “villain” in my story, Voss, holds pieces of my own      life inside him. I may not be so cold and convoluted that I would threaten to shoot another human being like he would, but I’ve experienced pain, betrayal and anger during the rough patches in my life, just as he has.





Me pretending to smooch
my cute brother.



There is pain in life. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have felt the aching drive to create stories and fill them with characters I can look up to, that give me hope; like Rayne, Sadie’s protector, who would choose his own suffering rather than let the slightest harm come upon her, or Sadie’s mother, Leena, who always wears a smile to cheer up those around her and make them feel welcomed. 


I drew a portrait of my Grandma for Mother's Day one year.
When you bring tears to your mom's eyes,
you know you did good!
Special occasion, my mom's 40th birthday.
I have such great memories with my family!!!

Every one of my characters has some of the good, and of course the bad (because nobody’s perfect), from all of the joy and learning and amazing people that I’ve met in my life. This is what makes my characters real. This is what gives me the drive to live with them inside my head each day. And when they all come together to experience it all in one big, intriguing, fictional world…well that’s when you know you have a story worth sharing.








11 comments:

  1. eagerly awaiting your next book! :)

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  2. Great post Christie. I think you hit it right on. Congrats on the "Coming Soon" of Book 2! Anticipation :)

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  3. Love the post! I totally remember that picture. You are and were definitely lovable. Can't wait for the next book!

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  4. started re-reading Deep Blue Secret..this might be the 3x?? maybe the 4th?, but, who's counting! thought you'd like to know! :)

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  5. Niki, you're such a sweetheart! Hopefully I can get book 2 done before you have the first memorized!

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  6. Can't wait for the fourth book to come out!

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  7. eagerly waiting for the fourth book

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I'm so glad you are enjoying the Water Keepers!

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