Monday, April 29, 2013

Characters and Covers, aka "What the heck do those guys really look like?"

So, I was the guest author at a fabulous book club meeting on Friday. It was so much fun--the ladies were smart and entertaining (no, I'm not just saying that because they like my book...but it helps *grin*), and the hostess laid out a fantastic, Swedish-themed smorgasbord of goodies, from Swedish meatballs right through strawberry-rhubarb pie. There was even a bowl of my favorite Swedish fish gummy candy. Yum!

One of the things we talked about is who might play my characters if a TV show or movie were ever made. They wanted to know how Ciel and Billy and Mark look to me.

So, do you ever wonder how an author sees his/her own characters?

You could be surprised. It might not be anything at all like how you picture them while you're reading...and that's okay. I'm of the camp that thinks readers should have a little wiggle room in how they envision characters they choose to spend time with for the space of a book.

Now, if you've read In a Fix, you may notice that Ciel doesn't look much like she's depicted on the cover of the book. Though, of course, she could if she wanted to, being an aura adaptor and all. This may come as a surprise to you, but cover artists don't always go by the character descriptions given by authors. And the marketing department sometimes decides long, red hair on covers sells better than short, strawberry blond hair. Or something. Whatever. I still like the cover.

Frankly, nobody I know of looks exactly like any of my characters, because, to me, they look like themselves. But for those of you who are curious, here are some "types" that are close:

Hannah Spearritt (whom you may recognize from the SciFi TV series Primeval) is similar to how I picture Ciel, in this picture at least. Though, of course, Ciel has greener eyes and a few more freckles.*

Or possibly Michelle Williams, again with the greener eyes and freckles:

See what I mean? A type.

Now, Billy's type is shared by a few celebrities as well, though, as with Ciel, neither looks exactly like him. There's Matt Bomer (of the TV show White Collar):

Photo courtesy of "Nightscream" on Wikimedia Commons.

Or Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries and Lost):

Source: By vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England (Ian Somerhalder  Uploaded by MaybeMaybeMaybe) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, Mark is a bit more serious, more of a tough guy. Like, say, a young Steve McQueen:

By Charles Guggenheim; John Stix [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Or possibly a younger-than-now Daniel Craig:

Photo source:

Do you picture characters vividly as you're reading? 

For the writers among you, do you ever have a real person in mind (celebrity or otherwise) while you're writing a physical description? 

If you've read In a Fix, is your vision of Ciel, Billy, and Mark close to mine? 


Patty Blount said...

I love to cast characters.

The lovely (please don't tell her I said this) Karla Nellenbach got me into the JD Robb futuristic In Death series. I can't help picturing former Battlestar Galactica actor Katee Sachkhoff as Eve Dallas. But Roarke? Nobody measures up.

For my Dan in SEND, I imagine a younger Jared Padelecki from Supernatural.

Linda G. said...

Patty -- I loved the first Eve Dallas, and want to read more of the series when I get the time (ack! time? what's that?). I can definitely see Katee Sachkhoff as Eve. And I love Jared Padelecki (and Jensen Ackles, for that matter) from Supernatural!

Carol Kilgore said...

In a Fix is coming up soon on my Kindle. I'm sooooo behind.

I DO envision what my characters look like, and it's so hard when someone asks who should play them in a movie because I do not envision them looking like any actor or celebrity.

And may I just say that I think I've already fallen in lust with Billy :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Sometimes I have a specific picture in mind for characters. Sometimes I leave it a little vague. It depends on the character and how appearance oriented the story/writing is. Generally I don't need to know every mole and freckle. I'd rather know their motivations and feelings.

abby mumford said...

part of what's so great about reading is you can imagine the characters anyway you want and it doesn't matter if it differs from public opinion or not and it's probably why when they turn books into movies, the fan base is so vocal about their (dis)pleasure with the casting.

but i do always like to see how the author envisioned the characters because after all, s/he is the one who created them.

ciel is adorable! but i must admit, because of the cover, i totally pictured her with red hair. i know, i know you've never described her as such, but... however, i like your version much better. and as for mark and billy? your pictures are exactly as i imagined them.

Diane Henders said...

Michelle Williams for Ciel, only with a bit more wicked sparkle (and of course the green eyes and freckles). Definitely Yummy Somerhalder for Billy (though I kind of want him to have brown eyes for some reason). I pictured Mark a little differently - a little more clean-cut, but maybe you're right; a younger, slightly more polished Daniel Craig would work for me.

Ah, hell, who am I kidding? Like I'd turn down Daniel Craig.

I have very distinct ideas about how my characters look, but since I don't watch TV and rarely see movies, I have no idea who might "fit" their roles.

Guess I'll just have to do auditions. Mmmm, Kane and Hellhound... casting couch... mmm...

LD Masterson said...

I have an image of my characters in my mind but I don't try to cast them. And I try to leave as much as I can to the reader's imagination.

Re. the In Death series - I think JD Robb has described Roarke in such perfect detail (emphasis on perfect) that it would be impossible to cast him.

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I saw the cover of In A Fix before I read it so that pic of Ciel is planted firmly in my brain and I like it.
For me - Billy was kind of hard to get a fix (pun intended) until I read Quick Fix (hehehe - ARC winner here) at the same time I fell in love with Charlie Hunnam. Now Billy looks like Charlie Hunnam - sigh.
Mark for me looks like an actor whose name I don't know but whose face is very clear to me.

Delia said...

I always picture characters as an amalgamation of many people, so I'm pretty open. That said, I do tend to "cast" my book before I really get writing. The difference is, I cast less by physical features and more by facial expression/emotion. Weird, I suppose, but it works for me. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I don't generally "cast" actors as characters in books, whether it's for something I'm reading or something I'm writing. I prefer to keep things more nebulous... as more of a persona than a person. The only exception: at one time, I thought of Jane Fonda playing my character Pearl, but the problem is, Fonda kept aging, but Pearl didn't! (Darn her!)

Unknown said...

Oh, Ian. *swoon* And lol, not exactly--but close! (re: your characters looking like the ones in the pics when I read your book.)And that's RIGHT!! Marketing people really don't stick with how you put your characters on the book. One of my friends had a short-haired girl as a MC and now she has REALLY long hair on the book cover. Meep!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Wow I totally got waylaid by that Daniel Craig picture. Wow. Yum. Wow.

Deniz Bevan said...

Awesome. I don't know who Hannah is, but she's Ciel now!

Perry Block said...

I'd like to know how you got hold of those four unauthorized pictures of me. There's just no privacy anymore!

Reading your book now & enjoying it a lot, looking for as much funny stuff to steal as I possibly can...

Raley Blue said...

I never cast my characters, but a lot of people ask me to do it. I suppose if I do start a pinterest,this might be a good jumping off point. My son, who is also a writer, can't read a book without writing down his cast of characters. This is especially funny when he reads something, uh, shall we say...older?... for school and he starts casting actors such as Dennis Haysbert as Nestor in the Illiad.