Is the Main Character You?

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my first novel will be out in July, 2014. It’s called Secrets of Hallstead House and the main character’s name is Macy Stoddard. Once in a while someone will ask me if Macy, or any of the other characters, is based on a real person. The short answer is no.

But it’s more complicated than that. There are parts of Macy that resemble me and parts of her that are my opposite. For example, she has brown hair. I have brown hair as long as I’ve been to the hairdresser recently. She is a caregiver, like me. I’m not a nurse, but taking care of people is what I love to do. Macy discovers a love of the Saint Lawrence River. I loved the River practically from birth. On the other hand, Macy can’t swim. I love to swim, and I’ve passed that love along to all of my kids. She hates boats; I love boats. She’s brave, whereas I probably would have left the island at the first sign of danger.

That’s one of the many fun things about writing fiction. A writer gets to make each person exactly the way she wants. Not a perfect person, but one that’s perfect for her purposes. A writer can imagine what a person looks like, and POOF, that’s the way the person looks. If a writer needs a bad guy, she doesn’t have to go looking for one. She makes him up. Need an interesting place to hide a body? Just give a writer a sec…she’ll come up with something.

There are lots of great places to come up with story ideas, too, not just characters. Sometimes ideas come from the headlines. Sometimes from a tiny blurb in a newspaper. Sometimes from an obituary. Ideas can come from going on vacation and passing an abandoned house and asking yourself, “What if…?” Ideas can come from dreams. Or nightmares. Or an overheard conversation. It’s fun to make stuff up. As a fiction writer, I take the world as it is and add people and problems from my imagination. I think fantasy writers must have a tough job. They not only have to make up their people and their stories, but they have to make up the whole world, too. Now that requires imagination.

But here’s something else that’s fun: I may have a picture in my mind of what my main character looks like, but if that’s different from the picture in the reader’s mind, that’s okay. All I need as the writer is my picture. The same goes for the setting. I may have a very specific idea of what a place looks like, but it’s totally fine if the reader has a different picture. That’s what makes books so much better than movies, but that’s a post for a different day.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite fictional characters. I’ll start. I’ve had lots of favorites, but at the moment, my favorite fictional character is Hamish Macbeth. He’s the main character in a series of books by M.C. Beaton. He’s a police constable, tall and lanky with bright red hair. And I love to picture the area of Scotland where he patrols. Anyone else read these books?

Until next week,

Amy

What if Your Book Were a Movie?

I would be lying if I said I had never dreamed of having my first book picked up by Hollywood and made into a blockbuster.  So in the spirit of indulging a wildly optimistic imagination, I’ve decided to do the leg work for the casting people and make suggestions for the roles of the characters in my book.  By the way, it’s called The Secrets of Hallstead House and it will be out (in book form, not in theaters) in July, 2014, from Kensington Publishing.

The main character (I prefer to think of her as the star!) of the story is Macy Stoddard, a twenty-year-old nurse who moves from Manhattan to one of the Thousand Islands in upstate New York.  Her parents have recently been killed in a drunk driving accident and her boyfriend, unable to deal with her emotions following the accident, dumps her shortly thereafter.  She needs a change of scenery so she takes a new job.  Her new patient is an elderly woman recovering from hip surgery.  Macy learns of old secrets on the island that will change her future and that of all the others on the island.  As she learns about life on the St. Lawrence River, she also must learn more about her own past.

In my humble opinion, Macy should be played by Zooey Deschanel.

The two main male characters are Will Harper and Pete McHale.  Will is about forty and the nephew of Macy’s patient; Pete is in his early thirties and a handyman on the island.  Neither man thinks Macy should be on the island, but for different reasons.  I won’t say anymore about them.

Except that Will should be played by Edward Norton.  And my choice for Pete?  Casey Affleck.

Macy’s patient is Alexandria Hallstead.  She is seventy-two and runs a family oil company.  Determined and strong, Alex harbors a shocking secret that Macy doesn’t see coming.

I wonder what Dame Judi Dench is up to these days?  Other than starring in Philomena, of course.

There is an older couple, Valentina and Leland Bryd, that live on the island.  Both are miserable and want nothing to do with Macy.

I think Annette O’Toole would be delightful as Vali, and I picture Leland being played by James Cromwell.

There are two other characters in The Secrets of Hallstead House:  Brandt Davis and Giselle Smythe.  Brandt is in the Coast Guard and Giselle is a television news anchor.  I can’t really say too much about these two without giving away spoilers, so you’ll have to read the book to find out more.

For Brandt, I think Orlando Bloom would be great.  And Giselle can only be played by the great Naomi Watts.

So for all you casting directors out there, I’ve done the work for you.  All you have to do is make a few calls.

Do you have dream characters for your books?  I’d love to hear the people you’ve chosen!

Until next week,

Amy