Monday, March 9, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 7 - Five No-Fail Inspirations When I Write

This past weekend I had three days off, and all to myself. It's not often I get such a luxury. And what did I do with those three days?

I wrote 4000 words of my English-gardener-transported-to-Van-Diemen's-Land story.

Since I 'cast' all of my characters, once I've got them settled in my mind, writing about the English gardener means having Ewan McGregor on the brain. I often turn to a file of photos I've got on my computer featuring my inspiration actors. Most of the time they're still shots from different films they've been in, with the actor caught up in an emotion that's central to the major scenes from my own story.

And watching scenes from the films themselves really helps. I 'download' the way the actor moves, the way he speaks - and my own character just takes off inside my mind.

Here's a little peek into my inspiration for the five stories I've got on the go. Not all at once, of course. They take turns.

The first character who came to me was Guthrie Carmichael, a Scottish gamekeeper on an earl's estate in the 1820's. Once I felt I knew him well enough, I cast him as English actor Sean Bean.

My character has similar coloring to Sean Bean, but Guthrie has gray eyes instead of Sean Bean's blue ones. And I don't let the actor's English nationality get in the way of my character's Scottish background.

Here's a backstory poem I wrote from Guthrie's point of view. It really gets to the heart of his motivation:

Gold That Burns

The second character who came to me is Robbie Flynn, the English gardener in 1840's Cheltenham. I cast him as Scottish actor Ewan McGregor.

You see how I don't let the actor's nationality affect the way the character comes to me... English-actor-inspires-Scottish-gamekeeper, Scottish-actor-inspires-English-gardener.

In a bizarre bit of trivia, the estate where Guthrie the Sean-Bean-gamekeeper is employed is set near Crieff in Scotland. This was worked out before the gardener story came to me, before I started looking up info about Ewan McGregor. And yet Crieff is where Ewan McGregor hails from.

Here's a backstory poem from Robbie's point of view:

For Helen He Would Do It

The next character that came along was Jock MacKeigan, a highland clansman fighting the English in 1746. I cast Scottish actor Robert Carlyle for this character. First match of actor nationality to character background!

A very recent poem posted for last week's Poetry Train gives a glimpse into Jock's tough, fearless fighter:

Take One More With Him

A magnificent character who came to me is the Dark Ages vampire, Peredur. By the time Peredur came to me, I already knew he would be 'played' by Gerard Butler. Peredur is Welsh, but Scottish Gerry will do fine. Just fine.

Although I didn't specify that this poem was from Peredur's point of view, I think I can share this secret with you now:

The Red Joy At Last

Last but emphatically not least is my latest arrival, Scorpius, chamberlain of Lady Elinor's keep. He appeared to me in the guise of English actor Richard Armitage. Scorpius is a paranormal/fantasy character, so Richard's English background is a total plus.

Here is Scorpius' backstory poem:

How Can I Ache For What I Never Had

Who are your favorite inspirations?


Jeeves said...

Like this a lot. How did you manage to connect the actors, poems, pictures.

Thomma Lyn said...

I always enjoy reading about how you cast your characters, and I love their backstory poems. I'm glad you got three days off, all to yourself, to write. :)

Kelly Boyce said...

I'm like you, I cast all of my characters. I need their face firmly planted in my mind to start.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I am in awe of you who can take a picture of a real person and make a character out of them. I can't do it; who that person is keeps shining through.

Dorte H said...

Thanks for an interesting post about your sources of inspiration.

Wylie Kinson said...

Your casting is ... DELICIOUS!

But if you can find some way to work an extra in there...
say, um... *thinking*
JAMES MACAVOY *squee*,your line-up would be over-the-top superb! ;) lol

Akelamalu said...

You chose some great actors to base your character on Julia! :)

Amy Ruttan said...

You stole them!! LOL!!

I would have to insert Clive Owen in there and Colin Firth, but yummy. I do the same thing as you, the only thing is I don't do the found poetry.

But Edwin is Clive Owen, Alfwyn is Richard Armitage, Lord Cedric is Rufus Sewell, Mathias is the guy who played Eomer and my Viking hero in the last book is Sean Bean :)

Julia Smith said...

Jeeves - I started identical blogs to hold my various archives so that my sidebar wouldn't be a hundred miles long. I do have to post a second time to the archive blogs, but it's definitely easier to manage that way. So I just added a link to te poem I wanted for this post. The actors found me, so to speak, and I went photo hunting on the web for the pictures.

Thomma Lyn - thanks for reading the poems! ((hug))

Kelly - I know whose face is a favorite inspiration for your muse...

Susan - You don't need anyone to inspire your characters. They are 3D real.

Dorte H - next time maybe I'll include clips so we can listen to their wonderful voices...

Wylie - James is most definitely in the wings. He will give me a character in the future, I'm positive.

Akelamalu - glad you enjoyed them! I like to spread the joy, whenever I can...

Amy - LOL!! I loved your similar post where you showed your cast list for your 'Enchantress' series. As always, your taste in yummy men is superb!

Travis said...

Now to my eye, Mr Armitage has more of the dark vampire look.

I do the same type of casting when I'm writing. It really does help to have a composite idea to start a character.