Are My Characters Based on Real People?

Photo © 2019 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

People are genuinely curious about what I do. I often hear questions, such as are my books a series, and are my characters based on real people? Yes, some have been inspired from I’ve known. Protagonists Ian and Gillian in The Reunion are loosely based on real people.


So what do I mean when I say a character is inspired from a real person? Does it mean the character is a clone of that person, with a different name? The answer is no, they are not. They are based on my memories of people I’ve known. I use those memories as a template to create a unique and fictitious individual. Ian, for example, was based on an old college boyfriend. I incorporated some of his positive aspects into Ian, such as his desire to succeed. However, none of us are perfect, and my old boyfriend certainly had his faults too, but most of those characteristics were not part of Ian. Oddly enough, I’ve found some of his negative traits in antagonists in other stories, although I didn’t realize it until after the book was published. Funny how our minds work.


Whether inspired from a real-life person or not, each character I create is fictitious, and each is a unique individual in his or her own right. And I must be doing a good job. I’ve had some interesting feedback from my readers. Some truly hated my villians and were glad to see them get their comeuppance. Others shared their frustrations over protagonists making bad decisions. My all time favorite, however, came from a lady who told me she was reading one of my books in her apartment complex laundry room. One of the antagonists made her so mad she started cursing him out. Then she looked up and noticed other people were giving her strange looks. Her story was the highest compliment a reader could ever give me.


MM

The Inspiration for THE DECEPTION Opening Scene

A photo of a merry-go-round at the fair.
Photo © by Gayle Martin.

The other day I was chatting with a friend who’s reading The Deception. She said she wanted to deck the boyfriend who dumps leading lady Carrie in the first chapter.  This chapter was inspired by a real-life event.


A few years ago my friends and I visited Seaworld in San Diego. As we walked around the park we happened to pass by a well-dressed young lady sitting on a bench, sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, a very serious look on his face. As we hurried past I realized he’d brought her there to dump her, thinking she wouldn’t cause a scene.

I’ll never know for sure what happened, but that picture stayed in my mind. And you know what happens when something stays in a novel writer’s mind, don’t you? It comes out in a story. In this instance, it became the inspiration for the opening scene of The Deception, but with a different location. This time the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. Her boyfriend also thinks dumping her in public means she won’t cause a scene, but he’s wrong. Very wrong. Dumping someone in public only adds more humiliation to the person being dumped.


Inspiration can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it.

MM