Monday, May 22, 2006

Real Live Inspiration!

I wonder how many authors have ever lifted an entire person from real life and put them straight into a book? I know that many of us use aspects of our own characters as well as people we know when we are creating characters for our stories but I’ve never used a real person wholesale, as it were. But last week I was tempted.

I was standing in a queue at the post office. It was raining, I’d forgotten my umbrella, and I was in the trousers I’d been wearing earlier when I washed the dog, because I hadn’t had time to change before I’d gone out. Who should I see coming towards me along the pavement but my gorgeous friend Lydia. Lydia always looks a million dollars. She’s beautiful, she’s elegant and she was trailing a comet’s tail of young, adoring Army officers from the college where she works. I felt like the frumpy debutante at the ball the night before Waterloo. I’d be hiding behind the potted palm in my unbecoming gown and Lydia would be holding court amongst an entire regiment of soldiers, sparkling with diamonds and dazzling everyone with her witty conversation. I wanted to go straight home and write her into a book!

I’m sure there are many other writers out there like me who eavesdrop shamelessly on conversations, and people watch so that they can use things they pick up in their writing. I’ve got some great lines that way. Then there are the events that you couldn’t make up. There was the memorable time I was sitting in a traffic jam in Oxford when a streaker ran in front of my car. Nothing is wasted – I was able to put him into a Regency, streaking in front of the heroine’s carriage! So perhaps I should feel grateful to lovely Lydia who will definitely grace one of my books in the future!

Nicola Cornick


Melinda Hammond said...

Having read your Regency streaker book, Nicola, I think you made good use of your inspiration!

Lois said...

You can take it the other way too, just being a reader, there have been some characters that remind me of real life characters I have known or know! :)


Nicola said...

Good point, Lois! Yes, that happens to me too when I'm reading something and I wonder if the author can possibly have met the same person I know!

And thanks very much for your comment, Melinda! I'm glad my "streaking experience" wasn't wasted!