Based on a True Story
I was speaking to a friend the other day (in that scary “real-world” place I occasionally find myself in when I venture away from the computer in search of snacks), and we got into a conversation about the upcoming book. I’m sure the topic came up organically, as in the dramatic re-enactment that follows:
Him: So, did you see Walking Dead this season?
Me: I have a book coming out, you know.
Him: Yeah, you told me. So, what do you think about Walking Dead?
Me: January 17th.
Me: That’s when my book is coming out. January 17th.
Him: Oh, yeah. That’s. . . awesome. So, I’m guessing you didn’t see Walking Dead yet. Um. . . that’s my sandwich. Please stop eating it.
Me: What an excellent question! Where do I get the inspiration for my characters?
Him: Get out.
I kid, of course. He didn’t see me steal his sandwich. I’m like a sandwich ninja, yo.
And he did ask me if I base the characters on people I know. And for that, I have to answer “kinda.” I like to think I make them up out of my own head, but I know that’s really not the case. Those interactions I have out in the scary real world with real awesome people are sure to influence character traits in the fictional worlds I prefer to live in. Sometimes, it’ll be a name I borrow from real life — one of my oldest friends’ first and middle names are Christopher Lee. He was named after the actor. His parents are also cool.
Sometimes it’ll be a personality quirk — I know someone who only ever learned to cook Chinese food, like Travis only ever learned how to cook Vietnamese food in 200 Days (and they’re both middle-class white guys).
And sometimes, I’ll co-opt huge pieces of my own personality and sprinkle them out among the characters like so much personality-dust.
What about you, friends? Do you base your characters on people you know? And to what degree?
Are you also a sandwich ninja?