Today Miss Demeanors is delighted to welcome Lorie Lewis Ham, editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine and producer of Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast. Lorie lives in Reedley, California, and has been writing most of her life. With the publication of her new book, One of Us, Lorie shares the inspiration behind her fictional characters.
Take it away, Lorie!
Where Do Your Characters Come From?
Authors are often asked where they get their inspiration for the characters in their books, and the answer can vary a lot from author to author. For me, a lot of my characters get their start from real people—whether an actor on TV, people I meet or see in a coffee shop, or people in my life. In the end, though, even if the characters start out based on someone, they tend to grow and change as I write about them.
For instance, two of the characters in my new book, One of Us, are based on people I know in the local theatre world (much of this book involves a community theatre production). Their appearance is similar, and they have some of the same personality traits, hobbies, and even some of the same common phrases that they use. This helps me visualize the character and brings them to life in my head. However, as the characters evolve, they start moving away from their foundations and become their own people. These two characters are going to be regulars in the series, so I look forward to seeing how they may continue to grow and change. I won’t tell you who they are because they are suspects in this book.
My main character, Roxi Carlucci, took a while to figure out. The protagonist in my first series, Alexandra Walters, was a little too much like me, so with Roxi I started out wanting to make her different. Roxi is tall and I am short. She is also a little more sarcastic, and much more of a risk-taker, than Alexandra was. A lot of Roxi’s background comes from her family. Her cousin Stephen has been in every book I have ever written, so I know her family well—they are connected to the Mafia. Then I gave her some of the same interests that I have—she loves Frank Sinatra, King Arthur, and Sherlock Holmes. She also knows how to use a sword—something I wish I knew how to do. Other things we have in common are that she becomes a podcaster, and she used to work in animal rescue. In my head, Roxi looks a lot like Jane Rizzoli in the TV show Rizzoli and Isles (played by Angie Harmon). Stephen has been with me for so long that I barely remember how he came to be except that his appearance was somewhat based on two TV characters I liked at the time—one being Paul Drake, Jr., in the Perry Mason TV movies, and the other a character on Days of Our Lives.
Many of the characters in my first series are based on friends and family, and even a few real-life characters who show up as themselves. One character from that series started out with just an interesting name I found on a headstone in our cemetery. Two of the victims in that series were based on some very unpleasant people I knew in real life.
I also have characters that aren’t based on anyone. I need or want a certain type of character, and I decide some of their traits and appearance, and they just seem to come alive as I write them. Needless to say, I do a lot of rewriting as I get to know the characters better.
For me, creating the characters in my books is probably one of the best things about writing. It is so much fun! Who knows who will show up in the next book?
One of Us
At thirty-five, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat, Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, California. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno.
Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community theatre production, which is also a
fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Then someone is murdered during a rehearsal in the locked theatre, and now she and Stephen are hired to find the killer. The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues? Can they stop the killer before they strike again?