Friday, May 4, 2012
Guest Post: Charles Benoit on Character Inspiration
My friends and family always ask me if they are the inspiration for the characters in my books. The truth is, they often are, but not for the characters they’d want to be inspiring.
The first female character I ever created was Aisha Al-Kady, the impossibly sexy, not-all-that-honest, hash-smoking, diamond-obsessed historian/treasure seeker who adds the oompf to the pages of my debut mystery, Relative Danger. Think a hotter Laura Croft, minus the guns. She was, admittedly, an over-the-top male fantasy that fit the over-the-top feel of the book’s comedic adventure plot. Guys who read the book say they love her, women who read the book say they didn’t trust her.
And yet, every woman I know says that there’s something, well, unusual about Aisha, that she seems, you know, familiar, like someone they know really, really well.
“What a coincidence,” I always say. “I based her on you.”
Fast-forward a few books to my first young adult novel, YOU. There wasn’t a female lead, but the girl who “you” obsess over is based on every girl I had a crush on in high school: exceptionally pretty with lots of interests—such as sports or academics—and zero interest in seeing me in any way other than as “a friend.” The main character reacts to this much like I did back then: ignoring the blatant signs and imagining how great it would be to be dating her without considering what she thought about it at all. Some female readers say they don’t understand why the main character would be attracted to this girl in the first place, to which I reply, you have never been a teen age boy. All we need is a smile from a pretty girl and that’s it, we’re hooked. In Fall From Grace, Sawyer has a super-hot girlfriend, Zoe, who’s very demanding and often treats him like a pet. Again, female readers don’t see why he’d stay with her. Male readers stop at super-hot.
Grace is different. She’s attractive, in a hard-to-define sort of way, and she has a compact (if a bit shapeless) dancer’s build. At best, she’s cute. Sortta. But she does have something that I (and lots of guys) find absolutely irresistible—a wicked-fast sense of humor. Gentlemen, you know the type I mean—the ones that have the witty comebacks seconds before anyone else; the ones who find a way to be funny without ever putting someone down; the ones who love to laugh, and know how to laugh at themselves in a way that makes them look even better; the ones who know how to tell a joke—a even dirty joke—without ever resorting to stereotypes or crude noises. Add to that a unique, I’ll-wear-what-I-want style and an adventure-focused, what’s the-worst-that-can-happen? attitude and you have what every guy really wants from a girl—a best friend.
So, ladies, does Grace sound sortta familiar, like someone you know really, really well?
What a coincidence, I based her on you.
Thank you, Charles! I seriously love this post, and love that you shared it with my readers!
Fall From Grace is out May 8, and is a great book with a creative concept to it that you guys need to make sure you don't miss!
Posted by Kari Olson at 8:24 AM