Many Characters Are Totally From Inside My Noggin

But Some Are Considerably Inspired by Real People I Know

By Jeff Salter

Topic: Have you ever based a character on a real person? Have you ever used a TV or movie character as inspiration for a character in your stories?

I’ve had déjà vu as I’ve considered this week’s topic — it feels like something I’ve addressed before… but perhaps in a different venue. Without stopping to re-visit each of my 22 published (or contracted) fiction titles, I think it’s safe to say that at least one character in each has been inspired by a real person (or composite of several people) that I know, or have known.

Rather than conduct all that research, I’ve decided to focus on my one title which contains the most characters based on real-life individuals. It’s Called to Arms Again — my third novel manuscript completed, and the third to be published (after I chopped about 55,000 words from it).

This novel also has the largest cast of characters of any of my stories. Here are the several which were inspired by real-live individuals I know (or knew… since many have passed away since my story was completed in early 2008).

Major characters with many scenes

Chet ‘Pop’ Walter — 80s, WW2 vet… army // AL honor guard — considerably inspired by my late father-in-law, Charles Williams.

Wade [Lawrence] — 30s // grandson of Pop’s deceased friend — considerably inspired by one of my wife’s first cousins, David [AKA Wink].

Pete Henley — 80s, WW2 vet… army // received belated silver star // chaplain of Legion Post & head of Honor Guard — considerably inspired by the late C.E. “Gene” Hansford.

Supporting characters, with several scenes

Diane Sutton — 60s // Kelly’s friend & neighbor — considerably inspired by my wife, Denise.

Joe Sutton — 60s // Diane’s hubby // suffers from various ailments like arthritis & fibromyalgia — considerably inspired by ME.

Irene Henley — wife of Pete // 80s // consummate hostess of the buffet — considerably inspired by my late mother-in-law, Rita R. Williams.

Roger Jenkins — 60s // no military // nephew to Pop — considerably inspired by one of my wife’s first cousins, Richard.

Norm / Norman — 80s, WW2 vet… Infantry lieutenant, but never saw combat // in AL honor guard & Pete’s neighbor — though not his physical characteristics, Norm’s military record was considerably inspired by my dad’s.

Herb / Herbert — 80s, WW2 vet, Navy… enlisted // a fighter during the war // in AL honor guard — considerably inspired by the late Albert Self, the maintenance superintendent at the library system where I worked.

Supporting characters, with fewer scenes

Miss Dottie Daniels — 80s // educated & articulate — considerably inspired by my late mother, Doris “Dottie” Salter.

As you can see, my novel with the largest cast of characters has MANY who were based on (or, as I prefer to say, inspired by) real people I know or have known. This is quite logical when you understand this novel – Called to Arms Again – is my tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Sadly, C2AA is no longer available for purchase from Amazon — it was one of 11 titles dropped when one of my three publishers closed its doors a year ago (January 2022).

[JLS # 626]


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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12 Responses to Many Characters Are Totally From Inside My Noggin

  1. No, you aren’t alone, I know that we have addressed this before. I don’t know why I didn’t catch it on the schedule, but maybe it was some time ago with other Foxes and other subscribers, so it might be time to revisit this.
    I did a little deeper digging in my thoughts, and, well, I guess that is tomorrow’s post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All my characters are conglomerates of people I know, have known, have observed (such as celebraties), and completely made up in my mind. A character is never created completely like one person or animal.

    Having said that, I did create one character in “Threasure In a Field,” based on a friend of mine.” A character with the same spirit and sense of adventure that our friend Lucy had was needed. But, before I wrote her into the story, I told her what I’d like to do and asked permission. Then I thought it would be fun to include her dog, Cian, although I spelled his name differently. She thought it was a great idea. And Shaun wound up being a major character in the story.

    In the acknowledgements, I didn’t add Lucy (or Cian) only because I didn’t want anyone reading the book who might know her to make comments about what changes I made to her character’s personality, or Cian’s, for that matter. Lucy understood that some things would be made up, and she was okay with that. I had so much fun creating that character.

    Usually, I look online for pictures of people who I’d like to pattern my characters after. Sometimes I have actors, models, digitally created images, etc. And I may make changes to their appearance.

    In one of my stories, I even referred to one of the characters looking like the movie star’s picture I used for them (without giving the star’s name, just a reference to the movie). After making changes necessary for the characters (eye color, hair color, beards or no, length of hair, etc.), I put these pictures on a board and hang it on my hutch to remind me of who each is and what the details are. I suppose it’s a way of creating the character after someone real too, with sometimes many, many changes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Called to Arms Again is on my Kindle app, ready to be read. What a lovely tribute to all those people in your life. Hope you find another home for the book, or find someone to help you put it out on your own.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I agree with Patty. This story is a lovely tribute to people that you’ve known over the years. Too bad the book isn’t available now. Lots of my titles aren’t either.I lost them when Clean Reads folded.

    Liked by 1 person

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