Character Studies: I Hear Fake People

Continuing character week on the blog!

I was shocked the first time I had a conversation with a friend about Alex, about why we like him, what he’s done, what his plans are. How Alex needs a haircut, but he’s kinda sexy with it all shaggy. How he looks about ten years old when he’s sleeping and all the worries and the macho crap fall off his face.

Why is that so shocking? Because Alex doesn’t exist except in my head and on my pages.

Some characters come to me rich and real. They’re effortless and natural. Others, like Alex, start out one-dimensional, a placeholder, an archetype. When I first met Alexander Warin, he was a steroidal studmuffin, basically, a black-clad assassin from Mississippi I planned to kill off by at least the second book in my series.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the slaughterhouse. Alex wasn’t ready to go. He opened up, showed me the soft underbelly beneath the hard abs. He fought for his right to live while his cousin Jacob, the one I’d fallen in love with from the get-go, began struggling in a dark and dangerous way.

Well, damn. I had to kill off somebody else.

Do you talk about your characters as if they’re real people? And has one of them ever talked his way out of an execution?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

7 thoughts on “Character Studies: I Hear Fake People

  1. I do talk about my characters as if they were real people. I’ll be out shopping or something and I’ll think of how one of my characters would react to a situation. Or what they’d think. . . . etc.

    My sweet hubby looks at me a little funny sometimes.

    Glad not know I’m not the only one who does this. 🙂

  2. Me too, Lynn. I thought I was nuts at first, but I’ve run across others who do the same thing. I like to think it’s because we’re fleshing our characters out and making them real as opposed to us needing imaginary friends 🙂

  3. LOL Suzanne. When I first started reading your post, I was thinking, “Who the heck is Alex? Did I miss something?”

    Thinking about my characters like that is how I decided that I needed to get serious about writing. Gabe and Belle were the first to do that and now that I’m almost finished with their story, I’m wondering who’s going to show up next.

  4. Love your questions, Suzanne.

    One of my characters’ cousins emailed me today. Okay, not strictly true, but when I was trying to figure out my heroine’s name seven months ago, I searched websites in the small town the story’s set in. I chose a last name based on a local newspaper article. Then yesterday I filled in a form online requesting an information from the a governmental department in the town and got a response today from someone with the same last name. It freaked me out for a minute until I remembered how I got my heroine’s last name.

    It’s probably cheating though, to think your characters are alive just because you stole someone’s last name.

  5. Those “voices in our heads” take on real personalities, don’t they? If our characters don’t “talk” to us, how can we be creative?
    Marianne/April

  6. Nicole–yes, it has amazed me that this happens, and it seems to happen to all of us!

    Angie–LOL. A couple of my characters have come to me that way. I had to tell their story. Alex was the exception. He’s the only of my characters who had to win me over and fight for his life!

    LOL, Kat–I have to say I have never been emailed by one of my characters’ relatives. But I love the idea of picking a character name from a name of a family that’s in a geographical area. That’s a brilliant idea. I name a lot of my characters after my own ancestors so I figure I’m stealing my own characters’ names.

    Marianne–you’re right. Now that I’m used to having my characters yap at me all day, I’d be worried if they clammed up 🙂