Many times I have been asked how I come up with my characters for my stories, and sometimes there is a simple answer; sometimes not so easy.? In some of my books, I have based the characters on people I know well. I have even used myself in a few of the books I have written. Other times, my characters are bits and pieces of people I had dealt with. I might like a personality, or the way someone looks and I?ll twist them together to get the desired effect. And then, there are those people that I see, that just inspire a character to be born.
Two weeks ago, I was at the deli picking up my lunch. This is something I do several days a week when I am working. It?s a small market in the area I work, and for over fourteen years I have been visiting it on a regular basis. I know so many of the people who come and go, and generally, my quick run in to pick up a sandwich takes longer because a resident who knows I?m a police officer wants to stop and chat.? But, something different happened two weeks ago, and it wasn?t until the story was finished the I realized I had based it off of a stranger that I had seen in the store.
I saw him enter the store, while I waited for my sandwich to be made. On first look, he was just a man, like any other working man. He wore work pants and boots and held his head high. His hair was longer, and dark brown with waves. If I had to guess, I’d say he was working outside and the wind had been tussling his hair all morning.? I noticed him a few times as he walked around the store and picked up his lunch, but after I left. I didn?t think about him anymore.
The next day, I returned to once again pick up my roast beef sandwich, did I mention this place has the best homemade roast beef? Anyway, the man walked in again that day. This time, he was wearing long green cargo shorts and an off white thermal shirt with the sleeves pushed up. I was chatting with a resident, and I tried to keep my attention on the man I was speaking with, but I found my eyes being drawn back to the man.
It wasn?t like he was overly handsome, not the kind of man I would put on the cover of a hot romance novel, but there was something about him. He was attractive in that humbling, comfortable way. The kind of way that you definetly took a second glance, and maybe wanted to find out more about, if you were in the market that is. (Okay, just because I was in the “market” picking up lunch, does not mean I was in the market for a man, I am married, not dead, I can look.) Anyway, maybe it was the way he stood with his shoulders back and his chin up. Of the square look of his face, but something caught my attention and held it. He scanned the area as he was walking around, and from time to time he would look my way. He was probably wondering what was wrong with him for me to be watching him so closely. With a gun and badge on my waist, it?s hard not to notice what I am. Maybe he thought I was observing him for another reason, like I thought he was going to steal something, but my reason was purely that of someone being intrigued by a person. That day I left, and again I went about my day without another thought.
It was on the third day that I was waiting for my sandwich to be made, and in he walked. The same clothes as the day before. I was standing in a corner and he didn?t notice me for a while. I took the time to watch him walk over to the deli and order, and then meander around the tables filled with various treats. He looked up once, and right into my face. Bam, I was once again caught and I looked away. At this point he probably thought I was a stalker, and I was wondering if he would end up calling the department and filing a complaint. I could just see my Chief calling me into his office to say someone complained that I was stalking them at the store.? I tried to avoid looking his way, but I was drawn to him for some reason.
Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a reason to watch someone, it’s like some kind of string that you are attached to and you just can’t help it. I watched him apologize to an elderly woman whom he stepped in front of and they called my number for the sandwich to be ready. It was as I was walking to the register to pay for my food that he did something that took me by surprise.
Like the last two days, he wore work boots. My assumption that he worked outside seemed rather appropriate after three days of the same types of clothing. Anyway, somehow he realized that dried mud had fallen off the bottom of his boots and was lying in the middle of the walkway.? He bent down to pick it up and I had to stop or walk over him. Now, that could have been interesting, but I stood three feet from him and watched. I made a joke about the fact that he was supposed to leave that outside and he replied jokingly back. I don?t remember his response, but he laughed, deep and softly. I never comprehended what he had said because I was too busy memorizing the sound of his voice and staring at the wavy brown hair on the back of his head as he cleaned up the mess. He stood, I passed by and moments later, I left the store.
That night a story was born. I wrote that 57,000 word story in 5 days. It consumed me, possessed me. Whatever you want to call it, but the male character I had created was explosive in my mind and he needed to come out. It wasn?t until I finished writing Barbara?s Plea, that I realized the man in the store had been the inspiration for my main male character.
It was that moment when he had bent down to clean up a mess, most others would have ignored or pushed to the side that stayed with me. The memory played over and over in my mind. In today?s society, so few people would do what he did. They would consider themselves too busy, or feel that it?s not their problem. Yet, that one man did something so simple and small that he created a character that I feel in love with: Grey Bloodstone.? Grey is a man who has the utmost respect for others, morals and principals. A man that goes out of his way to do the right thing, even if it hurts him.
I have no idea who that man is, or if that is what he is really like. I might never see him again, as I have not seen again in this last week, but I will never forget that simple moment he did such a simple thing. His actions inspired Grey to come alive, and for that, I will forever be thankful for the three chance meetings I had with him.