By Pat Stoltey
This post is adapted from an article I published on my own blog in May 2009.
I needed models for my characters to make it easier to establish individual personalities. Luckily, I just happened to have a few cousins and a much-loved sister-in-law who could provide all of the idiosyncrasies I needed. And just for fun, I used their first names for their characters.
Three cousins were the models for Marianne, Gail, and Diane. In real life, they're sisters. In my book, they're not related. I've assured the cousins I will let everyone know my Flippers are drawn completely from my imagination and not from real life. For instance, my red-haired cowgirl wannabe Marianne, who line dances with the sexy cowboys at a country bar in Davie, Florida, and plays Blackjack in Laughlin, Nevada, is actually a lovely white-haired grandmother and first-grade schoolteacher in Oklahoma.
Using real people to create characters in a novel has certain risks, of course. For instance, did I have someone in mind for the killer(s) and victim(s) in the Sylvia and Willie mysteries? No, definitely not. Really. Although someone who knew me in high school thought I was very tough on old boyfriends in The Prairie Grass Murders, which was set in central Illinois where we grew up. But those were Sylvia Thorn's old boyfriends, not mine. Honest.
The Prairie Grass Murders is already available for Kindle and Nook, and The Desert Hedge Murders is coming soon.