Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are they real? Really?

“Do you base tour characters on real people?”
I get that question all the time. Maybe it has something to do with the sweatshirt I wear that say “Be careful or I’ll put you in my next book.”
I think it’s hard to write believable characters if there isn’t at least a smidgen of a real person in them. I mean, sure, I create my fantasy men in all my heroes, but can I tell you?  Each of them has a little bit of someone in them.
For example: in my Phoenix Agency series book, Delicious Danger, Rick Latrobe is actually based on my firearms instructor, a former Army Ranger. He even looks sorta like him. And Xena the dog? She’s a purebred Caucasian Ovcharka, the Russian sheepdog said to have psi abilities.
In He Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Cody Alvarez was inspired by a cowboy I nearly kicked to the curb. Literally. I was sitting in front of the Bear Moon Bakery, a gathering spot in our little Texas town, reading a book and drinking my skinny decaf mocha latte, swinging my foot and paying no attention to anything. It was a cool December day but nice enough to sit out side. Suddenly my foot connected with someone’s leg and a big “Ouch” made me look up and blush with embarrassment.
Then my jaw dropped. Standing in front of me, all six foot two of him, was the quintessential Texas cowboy, with is square-jawed face, jeans hugging his long legs, boots that were definitely worn for work, ranch coat and the required Stetson. After I apologized I introduced myself, gave him one of my cards and asked him if I could take his picture.  I guess I’m lucky he didn’t call the cops on this weird old lady.
Anyway, he did let me take his picture and when I wrote HCUAMC it was his picture I stared at when I created Cody.
I also out a lot of myself into my characters. Cassie in  Once Burned is based on my experiences as a sports reporter, and two of my heroines—Rina in Do You Trust Me and Faith in Jungle Inferno—are romance novelists.
But I think my favorite character, who is based on a lot of people I met during my years in the music business, is Dallas Creed in Downstroke. And this scene is drawn from an actual event.

So here I was, waiting for my first glimpse of the man on a stage since he and his pickup band played the Raccoon Saloon all those years ago. It was time to find out if I’d actually managed to wipe Dallas Creed out of my system. If bottling up my emotions and using other men to wipe away traces and memories of him had worked at all.
The night had a magical quality to it, a perfect Texas night with stars blinking against a black velvet sky. A very soft breeze stirred the air, chasing away the last heat of the day. The sense of expectancy in the outdoor concert facility was nearly palpable. Anticipation fairly zapped through the air like bolts of energy. I could even feel it myself, the kind of feeling you got on Christmas morning when you ran downstairs, or when you were right on the brink of the most outstanding orgasm you’d ever had. Seventy-five hundred people moved restlessly in their seats in front of me. An almost equal amount were spread out on the rise of the hill behind me, drinking and staring at the stage with binoculars, even though at the moment there was nothing to see. They were all waiting for the same thing.
The curtain was drawn across the stage, heightening the edge of expectancy. Especially for me, much as I hated to admit it. What was behind there? What was his band like now after they’d tasted success once and were back on top with him again?
I could feel the energy sizzling through the crowd. Well, why not? If nothing else, Dallas Creed had always had an electric presence. Add in the staging, his suck-my-tongue voice and the electricity of his music and you had a knockout winner.
The soft notes of a viola floated in the air from behind the curtain, joined immediately by violins, and I wondered what the hell? Violins? Then I realized it was a synthesizer. And obviously a damn good musician coaxing music from it. The sound that mimicked violins seemed to hold the audience in thrall, as if they were expectantly awaiting a grand moment. The music built and built as the magician behind the synthesizer added the full-throated sounds of woodwinds and the rich tones and powerful chords of an organ, swelling to a crescendo. The last note held and held and held, flowing out into the crowd, pulling at us as if to say, Wait for it, it’s coming.
Then I heard the familiar first downstroke of the rhythm guitars as they began the intro to the first song. The curtain drew back slowly to reveal the band onstage, the bass guitar and keyboards now adding their voices, the drums accenting them with a syncopated beat.
All sound ended abruptly and the crowd stilled for a breathless moment. The band launched into a rich intro to one of Dallas’ hits, an upbeat tune called Cowboys Get It Right, a song I realized the synthesizer had laid the foundation for. The spotlight came up and the man himself jogged onto the stage.
To my dismay, my traitorous heart tripped at the sight of him and an emotion I refused to name clogged my throat. Dallas Creed was definitely a lot older, forty-three to the twenty-three he’d been the last time I saw him in person. Newspaper photos had kept me up with his aging process, but no picture could do justice to the energy still radiating from this man. The energy that had drawn me to him in the first place.

Won’t you leave me a comment about how you see characters in books? I’m giving away a copy of Downstroke to one lucky winner.


  1. Dang girl..you met some HUNKS..Lucky Lady..and I love the way you write them in your stories..they feel real in my heart and soul!!

  2. Love your guys and the inspiration behind them

  3. Love your guys and the inspiration behind them

  4. i love that shirt & want it! you've had such an interesting life. firearm training, sports reporter, cowboys? i'm in awe :)

  5. Hi, Desiree,

    You've caught the anticipation so perfectly - and the seemingly paranormal charisma some rock musicians have.

    You've had quite a life, lady!


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