Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crush & Inspiration

British actor Michael Praed has no idea, but his portrayal of Robin Hood back in the '80's served as the basic inspiration for the title character in my novel, Saving Jake.

Back in the day, I would have been labeled as "boy-crazy." I admit it. Always was, always will be. Even as a very young girl, I never thought boys had cooties, ever. I thought they were fascinating. As I grew up, I gladly suffered through a series of fairly serious crushes -serious meaning that my celebrity crushes lasted years and my boys-in-my-class crushes lasted weeks: George Harrison, Jim Yester, Pistol Pete Maravich, Robin Zander, and then as I grew into adulthood, obvious ones like Sting (Dune, anyone??), Matthew McConaughey, Eric Bana, Damian Lewis, and of course, Mr. Praed. (Years, I tell you.)

What this has to do with writing is simple. I never know when someone's face is going to kick off a story somewhere inside of me. I can't predict when this will happen, who will trigger it, or even why. I think that's actually part of the fun! But it happens, and pretty regularly. Michael Praed somehow gave me Jake Holdridge, a talented, sensitive, artistic rich kid who is being railroaded into the family business and becoming more despondent and suicidal as things progress in that direction. Luckily, he has a best friend who has a very odd psychic talent. Ah, but to learn more about that you need to read the book!

Seriously, though, plugging my novel notwithstanding, I find that some of the joy I have in writing is watching what my little adult crushes kick off in terms of story lines and character development. By the time all is said and done, people who know the basis for any of my stories look at the original inspiration compared to what I've written and say things like, "This is based on who?" I guess that's a good thing in terms of legal niceties.

Oh, and not to slight those guys who I actually know and love, the first love of my life inspired the main character in my now out-of-print first novel, Dead of Summer. And the tall, funny, green-eyed cutie who I eventually talked into marrying me was the basis of one of the young heroes in the only sci-fi fantasy tale I've ever written. So yes, sometimes lightning does strike closer to home.

But it's fun to go to a movie and watch a story with a domino effect. Great movie. Wow, the lead actor's face makes me think of someone who lives in a private world of his own music and is about to get a wake-up call from a seemingly stern old woman who is actually a magical being... but that's for another novel.

Hey, I included a pic of Mr. Praed as Robin Hood. Maybe you'll get inspired, too!


  1. I can SO relate. It's such fun to be inspired by people, real or fictional, and discover entirely new personas for them. Great article, Ophelia.

  2. Thanks. It's tougher for me when I have a character and then need to figure out who he/she looks like!

  3. Yes, yes, yes. I scan movie and teen magazines and catalogues, looking for characters that speak to me. I found the boy hero in my forthcoming novel in a Sears catalogue. My girl in my tween story came from a teen magazine. Of course the movies help to, when I can hear how they talk. I paste pictures on posterboard and hang above my desk for reminders.

  4. This blog site is so cool! It is very wonderful to find out that all my "quirks" are shared by others out there working in the same area!

  5. I have an interesting take on this. It's not the celebrities who turn my ideas into finding heros for my books but often a character I've read about in a book that helps me define a character. When I was creating dragon in one of my books, Winnie the Pooh came into my head and the dragon became sort of the foolish bear as a dragon. He really is a hero and becomes one in the end.

  6. The idea of a dragon having a Winnie The Pooh personality is enthralling! All of us find our inspirations in really creative places. Michael Praed inspired Saving Jake, but Robin Hood has been a hero of mine since childhood and has probably influenced quite a bit of my story-telling.

  7. I always pictured Aidan Paul as Jaime in the series OUTLANDER by Diana Galbadon though the author said he totally wasn't her inspiration at all!

    From my own YA books I use photos from teen mags or lately iStock photos as I can't find many teenage Latino actors.