Dana's previous blog (with which I thoroughly agree) made me think of everyday movies. Do you ever supply yourself with theme music when you're in the grocery store? Ever hear -- in your head -- Sting's "Roxanne" while you're getting dressed for the day?
My personal movie stars our daughter. She's my only remaining chick in the nest, since our sons are grown and gone . . . or at least gone. As anyone who knows me for more than ten minutes can testify, with a long-suffering sigh, by default Julia is pretty much the center of my universe now. And Julia, besides being intelligent, compassionate, and sensible, is a jock.
There are songs without number that play in my head when I watch her on the softball diamond or the volleyball court. There was a hip-hop song last summer . . . the chorus went something like, "Twenty percent luck . . . forty percent skill . . . blahblahblah the force of my will." The punch line was, "Remember my name!" That completely summed up my daughter and her attitude toward sports. When her school volleyball varsity team runs onto the court under the arched arms of the junior varsity team, I hear "Wild Thing."
The relevance of this to my writing? Yes, there is a tie-in, and I'm getting to it now. I didn't realize for a couple of years how much my character Sookie Stackhouse was based on my daughter; though Julia wouldn't ever want to read anyone's mind, and she wouldn't date a vampire or even speak to one. But Sookie and Julia have a lot remaining in common. Sookie is Unbeatable, at least so far, and that's my daughter's on-line signature. Sookie works hard for her successes, and Julia does too. Sookie has friends, and she knows everyone in town. Ditto. People from miles around know Sookie's name; that, too, they have in common. They share a few less charming characteristics, too, that I won't go into; after all, she may one day read this blog!
Now that I know I'm extracting character from a near-to-hand source, here's what I hope: I hope Julia also remembers what her mother told her the way Sookie's grandmother's words ring in Sookie's head. I hope Julia remembers that though friends can let you down, true friends are there forever. And I hope most of all that she's learned that perseverance pays off, some where down the line. Somehow, as I watched her team come back from ten points down to win the volleyball match, I think that's sunk in.
Though I never consciously base my characters on one specific person, I wonder if there are more of the people around me in my characters than I ever realized. I'm almost scared to re-examine them. Is my mom Sookie's grandmother? Is my husband Sam? When Julia gets off the court or the field long enough to read one of my books, will she see her brothers in some of my people? I look forward to the day when she tells me what she thinks.