Character Inspiration for the South of Forever Series

CHARACTERWhere did Jett, Koty, Savannah, Max, and the rest of the gang come from? I’ve talked before about how I name my characters (two guesses who inspired Jett’s), but not so much about the characters themselves. Sometimes it’s a lengthy process; others times, a character starts “talking” to me and won’t shut up. (Quinn was like that, and Max, too. I’ve also got another one jabbering in my head, for a way down the line project that I want to write yesterday. My production schedule is already full. Writer problems, sigh.)

The characters from the South of Forever series kind of just showed up. Jett, Koty, and Griff all crossed over from Playing for You, and Max and Savannah migrated from The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos. I knew when I wrote these standalones that they were going to spinoff into a series. I love giving my readers little Easter eggs like that, and I really wanted Jett and Savannah to meet.

I borrowed some of Perry’s womanizing personality from someone I used to know. (He’s a softie underneath, which you’ll see as the series progress.) I knew I needed to fill the bassist slot, and immediately I had this vision of an incredibly sexy man with dreads piled into a bun on top of his head, giving me a sultry look. The closest I can get to who I see in my head is Isaiah Mustafa. He swept me off my feet back when he did all those Old Spice commercials.

Poppy and Krista were a package deal. I knew right from the second Poppy stepped on scene with her printed pixie pants and wedges and on point marketing skills that she had a fantastic bestie. These two are each other’s ride or die. I’m getting to know Krista much more now that I’m pre-writing for SOF4! (The last in the series, sniff sniff… Or is it? I’m a little sad at the thought of wrapping everything up for good.)

Even when a characters pops in and announces themselves, I still have a lot of work to do to make them a living, breathing person. They may be inspired by real life people or partially borrowed from my own personality, but then they need to become their own entity. Once I have a basic idea of who they are and their name, I start molding. For example, I gave Jett fears, hopes, likes, dislikes, and quirks. She’s afraid of falling into obscurity. She’s also afraid of commitment. She adores her father. She wants to be a musician, even if it means forgoing a label and taking the indie road. She loves long baths and coffee. She’s had the same tiny amplifier since she was a teenager. She’s got a temper and she’s passionate.

Things like that.

I want my characters to be full of flaws. Sorry, but I don’t believe that everyone is perfect—especially when going through the growing pains of their early twenties! I sure as hell made some bad decisions and could be overdramatic at times. Especially when I was 18-23. Now I’m older and wiser and never whine. 😉

At the end of every book, my main character has learned something and grown from their experiences. I think this is the whole point of this ride we’re on. Life may throw some shit at you, but you sure as hell become agile.

LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge

Who is your all-time favorite literary character? Tell me in the comments below! Mine would have to be Susannah, from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. She overcomes a traumatic accident and oppression and becomes this courageous, brave, strong warrior woman. Oriza!

Next Friday: A day in my life!

Note: I’m jumping in late with this challenge. I’d planned on participating after one of my book managers suggested it to me, and then things kind of blew up and it got sidelined—which I really feel bad about because it’s a great challenge. I’m hoping to eventually go back and do the first three prompts, because I was really looking forward to them!

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Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

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