Creating Characters

No one in my stories is based on a real person, although some come close. Primarily, I create people I would like to know.

Some may be inspired by people I think of as “types,” such as the strong rural woman who is often known in town as a good cook and is a critical component of the town’s support system for church events and the local volunteer fire department fundraiser. Cassie Marsh, in Lonely Souls is one of those women. So is Miriam Penfield in the same book.

Perhaps the character closest to a real person is Grant McIan (Lonely Souls). When I met my husband, he was in his late twenties and was a bachelor living “with the seasons” — fishing season, hunting season, sugar season. While he didn’t have the personal history that Grant has (at least as far as I know!), he was also college-educated but without clear direction in his life in terms of a career. He had worked as a carpenter and a mason’s helper, as well as for a landscaper and nurseryman. Most importantly, he was a sugarmaker, continuing a tradition learned from his grandfather, just like Grant.

Dawson “Sonny” Penfield (Lonely Souls) is a hybrid in that his basic story comes from a person I knew, but has been modified to include a more diverse background. I knew a young man who was delivered as a newborn to the doorstep of his biological father’s home and handed to his father’s wife as her husband’s illegitimate child, born to an unmarried girl. She raised the boy as one of her own, and upon reaching adulthood, he became the one child who took care of her in her old age and made a success out of their rundown family farm. With the additional angst of never knowing his Abenaki mother or that side of his heritage, Dawson becomes an even more sympathetic character.