What a Character!

50029977 - notebook and pen on desk office, workplace, monochrome tone

This week, one of our foxes asked, “Has anyone ever asked you to add them to one of your stories?” “Have you told anyone that you were basing a character on them?”

I’ve based many of my characters on people I know. Sometimes I simply use their names, and sometimes I use their quirks to inspire the things my characters do. But I’ve never had anyone ask to be put in a book. Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of what they’ll end up doing!

I don’t usually inform my acquaintances about being the inspiration behind a character. The one exception would be my long-suffering hubby. He’s really a nice guy, but there are a few quirks I tease him about, and those have gone into my stories. Here are some examples:

  • Hubby has a terrible sense of direction. In the days before GPS systems were available, he often got lost. I have a feeling that’s why he got in the habit of leaving the house an hour before most of us would consider plenty of time, especially if I’m not available to go with him. I gave James Benton, the main character in Lost in Lavender, that same affliction.
  • Hubby also hates to travel, often citing the cost of eating out, gasoline, and whatever else he can think of. We had a lot of arguments about that before I finally packed up the kids and myself and took off on trips without him. The Calico Heart, the first book I co-wrote with Stephanie Michels, featured David Miller, who has the same irritating belief.
  • Hubby is a great cook. Until his numerous hospital stays this year, I could probably count on one hand the number of dinners I’ve cooked since we got married. I’ve never baked a turkey – and I’m in no hurry to do so! Hiromasa Tanaka and Alex Leonidis, the heroes in The Samurai’s Garden and Aegean Intrigue, are also great cooks, which impresses the heroines to no end.

A few other family members have been immortalized, so to speak, in my stories. I haven’t told them, and I’m quite sure they aren’t going to read this post, so I feel safe sharing.

  • In Christmas Wishes, Sophie Gardner thinks that what she wants is to go to Hollywood and write screenplays. That was based on my younger daughter’s dream of becoming a Broadway actress and performer. (She switched to a writing major but still performs in local venues.)
  • My older daughter, when she sets about implementing a plan, is a force to be reckoned with. An example would be her wedding. She got married here in Michigan, during her second year as a graduate student in South Dakota. The wedding took place on the weekend before her final exams were scheduled. The wedding went off without a hitch, and she got all As in her classes. That’s the kind of planning and dedication exhibited by Rose Sheffield, the heroine in Searching for Lady Luck.
  • Craig Murray, the hero in “Autumn’s Vow,” (a short story in the Second Chances anthology), is a runner who has to face his physical limitations as he ages. I thought about my athletic brother as I wrote about him.

I suppose if I looked closely I could compare other friends and relatives to people in my stories. I guess it’s easier to create a believable character if the author knows a real-life version of him or her.

Do characters that you read about remind you of people you know?


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
This entry was posted in authors, characters, experiences, Family, Fantasy vs Reality, inspiration, inspirational people, Patricia Kiyono, Preparing for writing, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What a Character!

  1. diana-lloyd says:

    Absolutely! Reading about one little quirk that someone I know shares with a book character really helps me relate to that character and the story. As a writer, I will say that I sneak in little things like the above once in a while. For example, I named a ship after a cousin who bullied me as a child and then I had the ship sink. Sorry not sorry.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s inevitable to form your characters, in part, after people you know when you’re a writer. It’s life experience. In every book I’ve ever read, I see traits and characteristics about people I know personally and even my own quirks at times. And when you’re writing, you automatically pick traits and characteristics for your characters from what you know.

    When it comes to creating a character for my novels, I never combine all the characteristics from one person I know into that character. Personally, I don’t think it’s right to do so, even if they were all good traits. The full names of people I know are never intentionally used either, although, I may use names I really like the sound of.

    In my writing I take bits and pieces of everything I know, specific places, objects, locations, and people, and mix them in with my imagination. Those I know may see a quirk of theirs in one of my characters, but they can never accuse me of setting that character up to represent them. You run into the problem of dredging up some hard feelings between you and people you know if you don’t avoid creating those characters to be exactly, or even close, to someone you know. I’d rather avoid that, especially when it comes to my villains.

    My genre is fiction. I’ll keep it that way while still taking advantage of the things I know and mixing them with other traits I see in the people I encounter each day. Safer writing that way. Just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      True. If you include ALL of a person’s characteristics, then it’s no longer a fictional character. So my hubby’s traits have been spread out over several books. When I’m working on a new one, he usually asks, “So which character am I this time?”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff Salter says:

    My hat’s off to your daughter, who planned her wedding a week before finals. Whew. I don’t think I would have planned a trip to Kroger during the week before our grad school “comps” (comprehensive exams).
    As for the topic itself, you seem to have an interesting array of people-based characters (or characters using people-related traits). I’m sure I’ll have a word or two to share on that subject, come Hound Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’m with you. I couldn’t have done it, and I got married in the city I lived in. She was three states away! If I’d known that her finals were after the wedding, I probably would have encouraged her to choose a different date. But I’m sure she had her reasons for picking that one!
      I’m sure you’ll have a colorful array of characters to describe on Thursday!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we all draw on experiences, I mean, only so much can come out of imagination and ring true, right?
    At least your husband was OK with you taking off on your own. His hating to travel may have the same root as his lack of sense of direction. Is he by any chance part Italian? My mother had no ssenseof direction at all until she was quite old; it came from nowhere. Some of her siblings were good about direction, but not everyone. Other men and woman have complained about their spouses and come to find out, they are part Italian.I knew a woman who was mostly Blackfeet, yet she had an Italian ancestor. All of her kids would go nuts with the way she always got lost.I told her to blame the Italian blood!


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, I’m glad he was fine with letting the three of us take off without him. The girls used to ask why he couldn’t come with us, and he’d tell them someone needed to stay at the house to make sure nobody came and took anything. Ugh. If there’s any Italian in his background, we don’t know about it. On his dad’s side, he’s almost 100 percent Scottish. On his mother’s side is a healthy mix. She used to say she was an “All-American Mutt.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    My brother-in-law always gave me grief about writing romance novels, but when I told him I had decided to put him in a book he backed off fast, LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Diane Burton says:

    Your older daughter sounds like mine. When she prepared her wedding (to be in Kalamazoo, where we’d moved from), she lived on Detroit’s east side, I lived in a Chicago suburb, and her brother was going to school in the U.P. She had all her ducks in a row until the owner of where the reception would be decided to sell, 2 months before the weddings.One can’t plan on that. But even long distance, she managed to plan her wedding. Same with our DIL, who planned her Lake Michigan beach wedding from Phoenix. Nothing much fazes these girls. Maybe I should use that in a book someday. 🙂


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