Who Am I This Time?

Have I Wanted To BE Any of My Characters?

By Jeff Salter

Years ago, I saw a marvelous – but little-known – 1982 TV movie starring Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. It features a young man (Harry Nash) who’s heavily involved as an actor in a small town’s community theater… but otherwise very shy and backward (socially). The screenplay was adapted from a Kurt Vonnegut story. If you get a chance to watch it… DO.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083325/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

To everyone who knows him, Nash (Walken) seems only to come alive – and come alive he does, in every role he takes on – as the character in that particular play. But once each play is over, he withdraws into his very meek, self-conscious, wallflower SELF. All the townspeople who know this young man just accept that Nash delivers magnificent performances on stage but is hardly anything more than a mild shadow in real life.

Sarandon’s character (Helene Shaw) – also a shy “wallflower” type – auditions for a play on impulse… overcoming all the usual fears and doubts. Once in the performance – of Streetcar Named Desire – she begins to feel an attachment to this curious young man who’s so dynamic on stage and so lackluster off stage. So she takes it upon herself to try to find the PERSON inside the individual who has all that fire and talent (on stage) but who lives such a withdrawn existence in real life.

who-am-i-this-time

Still frame from film, “Who Am I This Time?”

When I first viewed this film, I was utterly charmed by the story and by the performances of both major characters. And I found myself strongly identifying with Walken’s Nash character — who (when off-stage) seems to possess only the bare amount of energy and personality to muddle through each day. But onstage — in every character he plays — he’s a dynamo! Then, after the costume is returned to the wardrobe room and his make-up is removed, he returns to the “safe” predictably of anonymity.

Our Topic

All that is merely preface to our topic this week, namely:

If you could – even briefly – be one of your OWN characters, which character would you be? Why? For how long?

In my 20 published titles, I have at least 20 leading male characters. While writing these novels and novellas, I’ve had to BECOME those characters – along with many of the supporting roles, of course – in order to better understand them… so I could better convey them to my readers. In the course of those immersions, I suppose I’ve wanted to “BE” any one of them. But let’s see if we can narrow it down.

### Somerset Series

Called To Arms Again — Bill “Mitch” Mitchell

Echo Taps — Bill “Mitch” Mitchell

Hid Wounded Reb — Bill “Mitch” Mitchell

### Series: Amanda Moore or Less

Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold — Jason Stewart

Scratching the Seven-Month Itch — Jason Stewart

### Series: Rose Roamer: Time Traveler

Cowboy Out Of Time — Shiloh Hunter “Hunt” Weston

Cowboy Ambushed In Time — Shiloh Hunter “Hunt” Weston

I suppose the hero of my three title Somerset Series“Mitch” – is the character most LIKE me… though that wasn’t our topic. While the hapless Jason – primary male in my Amanda Moore or Less series – has his moments, he’s rather clueless and quite insensitive for much of the two screwball novels in which he reigns. “Hunt” – my 1885 cowboy who travels in time – might be a logical choice (for this topic) because I grew up loving western movies and TV shows. Yeah, Weston would certainly be near the top of my list EXCEPT for the fact that I couldn’t likely survive in the 19th century — I’ve gotten too used to creature comforts.

Stand-Alone Titles

The Overnighter’s Secrets — Shane Holder
Don’t Bet On It — Brett Hardy
One Simple Favor — Michael “Mike” Stagg
Pleased To Meet Me — Cody Wilder
Size Matters — Logan Stride
Not Easy Being Android — Woodrow “Woody” Ridge
Rescued By That New Guy In Town — Ryan Hazzard
The Ghostess and MISTER Muir — Levi Muir
Stuck On Cloud Eight — Rusty Battle
Duchess of Earl — Dusty Earl
Double Down Trouble — “Doc” Holliday
Random Sacks Of Kindness — Josh Donovan

Shane is a rugged, confident biker, but I couldn’t stand all that wind in my face — so he wouldn’t make the cut. Brett is a clever trickster, and even though his heart is in the right place, I wouldn’t want to be him. Mike – the hitch-hiker mistaken for a cousin – is a little bit too much of a laid-back hippy, to me. I love Cody’s resourcefulness and simple requirements, but I couldn’t handle all that self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle — way too primitive for me. I admire Logan’s many qualities, but I couldn’t stand being an attorney. I respect Woody’s abilities and confidence, but I’m not cut out to be a federal agent.

If you’ve been keeping count, that leaves only six possibilities (of characters I might wish to be):
Ryan Hazzard — works with county assessor
Levi Muir — starting school teacher
Rusty Battle — forester
Dusty Earl — runs a family estate and builds furniture
“Doc” Holliday — in-between jobs and cities
Josh Donovan — in-between jobs and cities

I suppose I could enjoy being just about any of these six — though I doubt I’d want to trade places for longer than a couple of weeks. Of those, I think Rusty was possibly the most fun to write… with his cheerful and creative approach to wooing the woman in the tree house. But I guess “Doc” was the most admirable – in the sense of his courage and strength – and I loved the way he stayed and took care of those old folks. So let’s call this a toss-up between Rusty and “Doc”. And, by the way, I just went back through the entire manuscript of Double Down Trouble, and I don’t think I ever revealed Doc’s real name! Or maybe I did, but have since forgotten it.

Confession time: As I tried to compile this list of characters from memory, there were SEVEN names for which I drew a blank. Funny how stories which occupied me for months (writing and revising) and months (in various stages of edits)… could – within a few years of their publication – allow me to forget the name of the leading male character!

Question:

If you’ve read any of these titles, what did you think of the leading male characters listed above?

About the film

For those of you who may be interested in this short film (less than one hour), here is a link to a lengthy, but excellent, review. Be forewarned, however, it contains MANY spoilers.

http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=27877

[JLS # 478]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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24 Responses to Who Am I This Time?

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I love how different and unique each of your characters are. And I had to snort at the reasons you wouldn’t want to be certain characters. Silly, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      thanks, Jenn. Funny thing about those characters, when listed. The last two have been “between jobs and cities.” Guess I’ll have to come up with a few more back-story details in the future. LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh,I have to keep checking.I THOUGHT that I had posted a comment right after midnight.
    I have a number of your books; some I have even read! (I am so far behind in my reading, sorry).I had no idea that you had TWENTY published already. Congratulations! I really have to step up my game,(reading and writing).
    Admit it, you’d like to step into the boots of “Hunt” for a while, at least, while he is in THIS time period!
    I wish you continued success and momentum in your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks for your support and encouragement.
      Yes, I have a lot of admiration for the men and women who peopled the “settling” of the American west. Of course, my juvenile mind ignored that the Native Americans were horribly cheated and mistreated in that process of “expansion”.
      That said, I admire the self-sufficiency and strength that people like Hunt Weston possessed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So far, I haven’t read too many of your books, but enjoyed each one I did read. I do see your personality in your character, Josh Donovan, the book I’m reading now. For a long time, I’ve been trying to get across to all the writers I know the importance of putting yourself into the character’s shoes. ALL the characters. If you want them to be real, you have to. I learned that from an actress who was taking the writing classes I was in. She said you have to immerse yourself fully into the part when acting, and it didn’t seem any different to her when writing. After that, I took it as my rule of thumb anytime I wrote a character into my story. So far, I think it’s paid off with the comments I receive on the books I’ve published. I think you do the same thing, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      thanks for your support, Sharon.
      Yes, very true about immersing oneself into the character — whether as performer or author. I also immerse myself into the VILLAINS and to the female characters, but there wasn’t room in this blog to venture into that territory.
      One of the greatest delights (for me) is sometimes the “minor” (supporting) characters who appear because the plot needs them… but linger on because they’re so much fun to write.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I try to step into the shoes of every character I bring into the picture. Whether they are the boy reading a book on the sidelines, or the main character. They all have to come to life for the reader.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    The Walken/Sarandon movie sounds like fun. Maybe some night when hubby is asleep and I have control of the remote I’ll look for it. I’ve read seven of the books you listed, and I definitely saw you (or at least what I know of you) in all the heroes. Each one has a quirk and shows strength in his area of expertise, yet has enough weaknesses to make most women roll their eyes.
    P.S. I don’t think it’s odd that you drew a blank on some of the names. I had to look up a few of my characters for my Monday post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks for your support, Patricia.
      Yes, I think you’d love that TV-movie… and it’s less than one hour long.
      Wish I had a copy now. Well, I do have a VHS copy somewhere, but nothing to play it on.
      Funny thing about character names. In many of my novels, I’ll have 20 names or more. But when I was drafting this blog yesterday, I was trying to also remember the names of some of my villains. I could only remember one — Kaser — from Overnighter. All the rest have temporarily vacated my noggin.

      Like

      • Patricia Kiyono says:

        I see the movie is available on Amazon Prime, so I can watch it on my laptop! Maybe I’ll use watching a movie as an incentive to get some writing done.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not surprised he can’t remember them all either. I only have several stories written and a few short stories, and I forget the names. But then I’m the world’s worst at names. My entire working career, I worked with lists of name from clients and customers and patients. Go figure. I’ve been this way since a teen. There’s no excuse for me. LOL

      I think I’m going to try looking for that movie too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. trishafaye says:

    What a fun question to make you all go back and look at your characters again with a new set of eyes. And you’re right. The characters take over our life as we’re writing their story…and then…POOF – on to the next one.
    Nice post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Trisha.
      Yes, it’s probably a good idea to keep our stories (and characters) reasonably fresh in our minds… so that if we’re ever asked any questions — as in an interview — we’d be able to answer intelligently. LOL.
      Imagine if you were on national TV and the interviewer asks, “who’s your favorite of the characters you created?”
      And then we blank out, “Uh… well, there was this guy, but I can’t recall his name, what he did, or where he was from.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL That just happened to me on a podcast interview yesterday. I was asked that question. But my favorites are no problem. It’s the others that I have difficulty with. What I did was make a list of all the names in every book I’ve used. I listed them alphabetically, and put the book they’re in after the name. This serves two purposes. One is the know the name if someone asks me about the book (I have a file online as well as a physical list in my writing tips notebook), and two, so I don’t use the same names over again in future stories.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          you are far more organized than I am.
          I love that idea.
          For the Amanda series, I did assemble a chart — on Excel spreadsheet — of all the names in the series, with those connected to Jason on one side and those connected to Amanda on the other. In the middle were those few characters who connected to both.
          I wish I had the energy / time to do that with my other series… and also with my stand-alone titles.

          Liked by 1 person

      • trishafaye says:

        …laughing at the imagined interview. Thanks for the morning giggle. I suppose pulling a crib sheet out of our pocket wouldn’t be much better.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynn Shurr says:

    I find that I put a little bit of me into all of my favorite characters. I doubt I’d ever be so brave or bold. I came closest to me in Taste of Bayou Water (young Yankee librarian comes to small Southern town and stirs things up) and Will (more autobiographical than most would realize-though I never did marry a rock star). I suspect it is the same with your characters, Jeff.. Each one contains a small part of you whether a characteristic or a yearning to be more like them. Only the author ever knows.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I agree. And I’m pretty certain I’ve imbued certain of my tastes and idiosyncrasies into many of my characters — male or female, major or minor.
      I find, for example, that several of my characters use words like keester and skivvies… and many are likely to snack a lot. LOL

      Like

  7. Elaine Cantrell says:

    We really do become our characters, don’t we? At least for a short time we do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve read all your books except for the time travel cowboy, I have the book but just haven’t found the time to read it yet. There were several times where I was reading and I could picture you in some of the characters.
    I think my favorite male lead is probably Levi, or maybe Dusty, or Mitch. Oh I can’t decide! I really enjoy all your characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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