I’m always trying to strike a balance between describing my characters enough to give my readers a good idea of what they look like, while still letting my readers form their own images in their minds. One idea of the population of Kingdom Come is that the many cultures and nationalities of Earth are forever mixed and blended out in the colonies. I prefer to describe a character as “A big guy, but he carried the extra weight like an athlete” and leave my reader to decide what his skin tone and facial features are. Rarely do I specify an Earth-recognized nationality for a character, and I often don’t even specify hair and eye color.
Confession time. If you want to know the truth, almost every lead male character I create begins their fictional life as either Ricky Schroder or Christian Slater! I also frequently visualize a certain hunky Scotsman who has no real-life equivalent, or if he’s a guy-next-door type, Paul Teutul Jr.
Why Ricky Schroder and Christian Slater? Well, there is the obvious fact that, as a 40 year old woman, I grew up with the two of them being the main heart throbs of my generation. But more importantly, they are both accomplished actors who have created a variety of characters over more than thirty years. It is easy for me to think about the cocky young hustler in Poolhall Junkies, or either the unassuming Henry Spivey or the enigmatic Edward Albright from My Own Worst Enemy. They’re like sculpey polymer clay; I can make them into whatever I need.
The Kingdom Come stories are not about one specific set of characters. They are romance novels in the Regency tradition where you get a new hero and heroine (or several, since the planet practices group marriage) in every book. But there is some crossover, and I sometimes find myself getting confused because I have two Christian Slater characters in the same room, talking to each other. Surreal, in my mind, but hopefully my readers will fill in all the physical details in whatever way they find attractive.
I’m interested to hear if other writers have real-life inspirations for their characters, whether actors or friends, or whether anyone else using the same ones over and over in different ways…