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Welcome dear reader! How nice to enjoy a virtual cup of tea with you here at Live To Read today, and chat a bit about the inspiration behind choosing characters for ONCE UPON A HIGHLAND AUTUMN.
People often ask me where I get my ideas—the checkout lady in the supermarket asked just yesterday. Sometimes the tone is slightly admonishing, full of unspoken shock—where on earth do you get those ridiculous ideas? That kind of question usually comes from relatives, who know I was properly brought up, but wonder how I managed to fall off the rails anyway.
But those aren’t the people I write my stories for—you are.
I’m never stuck for story ideas. Real life offers so much plot potential—even grocery shopping—so there’s always a story percolating in my brain.
My favorite challenge lies in creating characters that will be heroic, beloved, and intriguing. They must have flaws, and make terrible mistakes before they reach their happy conclusion. Why shouldn’t they suffer the uncertainties of life and love just like the rest of us? Or even more, since that’s what makes their story worth reading.
I have a questionnaire I fill out for the main characters in each story, like a job application, before I start writing. There are questions about their personalities, what events in their lives have made them the way they are, and what they really want out of life, and why they want this job. I’ll bet the checkout lady had to complete a similar application to get her job. It fixes in my mind who my characters are, how they will react to the difficult situations they’re going to face in a Lecia Cornwall novel.
Still, even with planning, there are characters that do their utmost to break the mold and shatter expectations. They go off script, again and again. Frustrating? Actually it’s my favorite part of writing—that moment when something happens that I (the writer) didn’t expect, and it changes everything. Breathtaking!
My hero, Christopher Linwood, the Earl of Rossington refused to behave as expected. I originally intended him to be the exact opposite of the heroine in personality and culture—stiff, formal, very English, and rather arrogant. But Kit wasn’t born into his title. He inherited it after the death of his father and older brother, and since he wasn’t raised to be an earl, he’s uneasy in the role. Kit, a diminutive of Christopher, suited him much better, and I found the inspiration for his mannerisms in a wonderful old movie—How To Steal a Million. Peter O’Toole plays a supposedly inept art thief, but in reality he’s a world-class expert on forgery. He’s shy, awkward and totally smitten in Audrey Hepburn’s presence, but he’s quick witted and ready to help her out of her predicament. That persona fit Kit perfectly, and I’m sure Megan McNabb, our heroine, would agree.
And a picture can be worth a thousand words—or even 85,000 words. Most of the time, in my mind, my main characters’ faces are blank, as if I am looking out through their eyes from the inside. I love the process of creating a visual storyboard to give readers a glimpse of the images playing inside my brain as I write, and how I imagine my characters might look (I do this after the book is finished). You can see my Pinterest Board for ONCE UPON A HIGHLAND AUTUMN at http://www.pinterest.com/leciacornwall/once-upon-a-highland-autumn-by-lecia-cornwall/
I love hearing from readers! Please leave a comment or question here for a chance to win a copy of the previous book in the series, ONCE UPON A HIGHLAND SUMMER, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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