Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Peek In #6

Welcome to Week 6 of my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. This week's reader's question is one I used to wonder about as I read my favorite fiction.

To what extent do you base your characters on real people? Did you feel you had to be careful about that?

Some of America’s most famous authors have based fictional characters on real people.

Mark Twain created Huckleberry Finn in the image of his childhood friend, Tom Blankenship. In Twain's autobiography, he explains, “. . . I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as any boy had.” I’m not sure how careful Twain felt he had to be in making that statement, but my guess is Tom Blankenship would have been flattered.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Harper Lee based To Kill a Mockingbird's Dill Harris on her childhood friend Truman Capote. And in Capote’s 1984 obituary, The New York Times states Capote used Harper Lee as the prototype for one of his characters in his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.

Authors create believable fiction by first experiencing life. I created the character Mom Robinson by first experiencing the generosity of my hometown’s beloved Granny Lowry, as my August 12, 2011, blog post reveals. Granny Lowry is no longer with us, but her family members seemed pleased that I worked her example into Delivery.

So which other characters in Delivery are based on real people? Local readers have been trying to figure that out. Livi, Gretta, and Miss Ellie in particular embody fragments of personalities I know and love. Rather than attempting to replicate those people, I incorporated some of their remarkable traits into characters of my own invention. Eccentricity. Humor. Determination. Loyalty. Vulnerability. Faith. The stuff that life is made of. The stuff we love to read about.

What traits do your favorite people exhibit? I'd love to know (traits, NOT names!), so please share in the comment section below. Who knows? Your input might help me create characters for my next novel.

Speaking of your favorite people, wouldn't one of them love to have a Kindle 3G? You could surprise someone at Christmas and lend each other ebooks if you win my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. That's right! Two Kindle 3Gs--one for you and one for a person of your choice. Enter daily to increase your chances.


  1. My favorite people need to have a lot of faith. humor , loyalty & I guess I could go on a lot longer but those 3 really cover so much for me.I enjoy your blog so much.
    Wilma M.


  2. Thanks for the explanation,Diana. You did a great job of making all your characters in Delivery seem very real by incorporating "bits and pieces" from the real people in your life. Through it all you captured the essence of small town living as I experienced it!

  3. Faith, humor, and loyalty--a powerful combination, Wilma. Speaking of loyalty, thanks for being such a loyal friend to so many Christian authors!

    Kathleen, I appreciate your kind words so much. If Corning is the small town of which you speak, what a great setting for a novel. It's such a beautiful community. Thank you for submitting this week's question, too! What others do you have up your sleeve?

  4. I'm glad to know I'm not the only writer who draws on fragmated pieces :) and I based the mom and youngest sister in Last Resort on my mother and youngest sister. Both would have been flattered. They both read and loved my writing before I lost them six years apart. I loved Mom Robinson in Delivery, and her family probably feels her presence is remembered by Delivery and shows how important she was to the small town. I really enjoyed this post. I'm also glad to know such famous writers based some of their characters on people they really knew. Some of my characters were made up purely out of my imagination, but I do use pieces and put them together to form some, like I did with my villian :).

  5. Hmmm. Let me think. How about in writing about Ida's decline
    did you have to do medical research into signs and symptoms of her condition?

  6. B.J., how awesome that you've memorialized your loved ones in Last Resort (which I can finish reading now that I've relocated my missing Kindle cord). As writers, I think we're constantly taking mental notes about our experiences to build a store house of story ideas. How precious when we can draw from our memories of those we hold so dear!

    Kathleen, since you're an official Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G entrant, I'll add your newest question to the pool. I sure did appreciate this week's question, and I wish you the best of luck in winning the contest. Email a question a day for more chances to win!

  7. Strength under fire. Compassionate heart. These are just a couple of the things I look for in characters.
    Nice to meet you, Diana!
    (p.s.-my blog is new)

  8. Strength under fire--there's a test of faith, huh? Nice to meet YOU, Miriam. I am honored to have joined your lovely blog. I especially LOVE your favorite book! :-)