Friday, 11 March 2011

Novel characters - Fact or Fiction?

By which I mean, how do you create your characters? Which is best - basing them on real people, or creating them from scratch?
I expect everyone has a different opinion on this one so I’ll just tell you what works for me. There are no characters in my Artesans series based on real people, except one. I cannot deny that my main female character is the kind of person I’d like to be, but unfortunately, I’m nothing like her. Except that neither of us is tall.

The one character who is drawn from real life is Elias Rovannon, High King of Albia. I based him on the English actor Sean Bean, who many of you will know from his portrayal of Boromir in the Fellowship of the Ring, the first Lord of the Rings film. He also starred as Richard Sharpe, from novelist Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. I have long been a fan of Sean Bean and by some unconscious quirk, when I began creating Elias Rovannon, the face in my mind was Sean’s. (PS: Don’t tell my husband! J)
I don’t know if Elias’s nature mirrors Sean’s at all, I made it a mix of Sharpe and Boromir, but physically, Elias and Sean are the same. Every time I imagine the thrill of having my series made into a film (and who among us doesn’t?) it’s Sean playing High King Elias.
I wonder what he would think about being the basis for a fantasy character? I hope he would be flattered, as although Elias has his faults, he’s essentially an honest human being who tries to run his realm fairly. He has some terrific action scenes and has to cope with betrayal, unrequited love, and a broken heart. He doesn’t come into his own until the second trilogy, but he’s a major player in the Artesan series.

So – who have you based characters on, and has that person ever found out? Or do you believe fictional characters should not be based on real people? I’d love to hear your opinions.

1 comment:

  1. I think I commented on this over on the Rhemalda blog a while back, and I think I basically said "SEAN BEAN RULES!" or words to that effect.

    I don't generally use real people, though occasionally I take bits and pieces from friends. More likely I'll put myself in a book, which I did for my first novel, and no one really noticed. Though if I told them which character was based on me, all of my friends and family got these "Oh! Of *course*!" looks -- which amused me, as the character is a fussy, pragmatic, prim and proper by-the-book woman. I like to think she was an exaggeration of myself, though by the way people who know me react, I have to wonder if she isn't a bit closer to me than I hoped.

    But basically, the real point is that SEAN BEAN RULES. 'nuff said!