This sweet boy is merely 10-years-old but harbors a deep secret. (Don't all fantasy middle-grade novels start this way?) He's curious; intelligent; observant; and quick-witted. And based largely on my husband, Alejandro. True, when I first discovered Oliver, I didn't know my husband. The story came to me in a flash one day and for some reason, I wasn't in the right mindset to chase it. When it was time, there was Alejandro. His personality largely affected the development of Oliver.
Below is a chapter I wrote over seven years ago. It's still in draft form, but it's of a story I love and hope to return to someday.
Ready to read the beginning of Oliver's story?
Fact or fiction: Ever wonder if some of my characters are based on real life people? Get ready to find out!
This might be a bit controversial--talking about who inspires my fictional characters. After all, you really only have one hero. But, it's a question worth exploring. Personally, I'd love to know who inspired Rowling's Harry, Tolkien's Sam, Orson's Ender, and Collins' Haymitch. Yes, often times characters evolve completely from the unknown. There's little to no attachment to anyone in real life. However, it's impossible not to draw from what we know. After all, writers are constantly told to "write what we know." And who better do we know than the people in our lives?
For me, it's natural for the heroes in my stories to resemble some part of me. Let me reiterate something--heroes are flawed. There are no perfect heroes. Which means, drawing from my own flawed existence is extremely helpful when creating these very complex characters. Take for instance, Breslin. She's an anxiety riddled, people-pleasing, introvert. When I wrote this character, I was going through some of the toughest mental health issues I've ever faced. To say Breslin is a part of me is an understatement.
But what about the others? The hero's best friends? Parents? Enemies? Antagonists? Well, here's a little reveal on who inspired who. Some may just surprise you!
FROM THE MISSING CRIMOIRE
Aberdeen Hall | TMC's aloof and loathsome villain. This was one of the most enjoyable characters to write. And you bet I based her off a real person. When I wrote TMC, I was discovering my love of writing. It was new to me, this skill. Yes, I had real cheerleaders in my life (professors, friends, classmates), encouraging me to write. But also real--downers. Enter Sophomore year. High school English. Mrs. Hall. A woman who somehow seemed to loath me. (Well. Loath is a harsh word. Dislike, maybe.) A woman who never shied away from reminding me my writing was mediocre. True, I wasn't the best writer in high school. But her discouraging comments didn't wax my love for the craft. (That was thanks to my junior English teacher. Who I LOVED.) So, when I needed to create a character full of loathing towards my hero Luke, I didn't hold back.
Austin Rivens | another antagonist in TMC. And this one? Is purely fictional. He's a renegade, rugged type. The kind of person who's seen things and done things you'd likely scorn him for. At 24, I'd never known someone like Austin. However, I'd seen enough movies, read enough books, to have a feel for a character that I'd like to create.
Alden Cashal | the adoring and wise professor in TMC. This one is part fiction part fact. One of my most favorite professors at Pepperdine was Dr. Collings. His passion for creative writing and the craft of prose inspires me to this day. When I wrote Cashal's character, I'm now 100% certain I was subconsciously weaving Collings' kind and whimsical approach to life through him.
Gravis Dromore | Luke's nemesis. Yes. You better believe I based this kid off of a high school crush gone awry. Down to his birthday, black hair, and chiseled face. Ah, to be young and heart broken. Teen angst is always a source for villains in future stories, no?
FROM THE NAMING OF COLTON BLACK
King Black | Breslin's father and ultimate antagonist in TNCB. In no way is King Black my own Father. He is 75% fiction and 25% a combination of people I know. When I wrote this story--and based Breslin so much on me--I worried people would assume her Father was my Father. It couldn't be any less true. My Father was tender-hearted and the biggest encourager of ME. King Black is the opposite. But, I will say, the realness of a daughter's desperate desire to be adored and loved by her Father is as true is at it comes. I was blessed to receive this when my Dad was alive.
(This is a manuscript I've completed yet not finalized. I love the story but feel stuck each time I go to edit it. Maybe one day, I'll get it out to you all to read!)
Oliver | the hero from MARKED. This sweet boy is merely 10-years-old but harbors a deep secret. (Don't all fantasy middle-grade novels start this way?) He's curious; intelligent; observant; and quick-witted. And based largely on my husband, Alejandro. True, when I first discovered Oliver, I didn't know my husband. The story came to me in a flash one day and for some reason, I wasn't in the right mindset to chase it. When it was time, there was Alejandro. His personality largely affected the development of Oliver.
Hope you enjoyed this reveal! Curious about any other characters in my books? Ask below and I'll let you know, fact or fiction!
(Photo by Heidi Ryder Photography.)