When I do interviews one of the questions I am routinely asked is where or how do I come up with my characters? Is there a formula I use? A questionnaire I fill out? How do I create a character readers can get behind?
I kinda love this question because it’s easy to answer.
I’m nosey. Really. Like, I’ll ask a rock a question nosey. And I’m honest about my nosiness. I say upfront to someone before I grill them like a steak, “Now, I’m just being nosey so you don’t have to answer this, but…” I’ve never had someone not answer the question after saying that!
I’m also a diehard people watcher. In restaurants, on line at the bank, in airports. I love observing how people interact with others, their personal mannerisms and quirks when they think no one is watching them; how they handle stress and problems that arise. Even, how they speak to others. You can learn a world of info about a person just by watching how they treat wait staff in a restaurant.
So, when I set out to write a new story, the characters come first. I’ll see a woman eating alone in Panera and start to build a backstory for her. She’s alone because she’s recently divorced or widowed. The way she’s dressed tells me she’s a professional or has been a stay at home wife/mother. She checks her phone every few seconds, looking for a text, so that tells me she’s meeting someone, or waiting for some important, potentially bad or worrisome news. All these little things I notice get stored in my memory and when I’m starting a story I pick and choose the ones I want for my heroine.
Same for my hero. I’ll see a guy on the train. Business suit and leather briefcase tell me he’s a banker/lawyer/stock trader. His shoes are old and worn, tho, so he’s struggling a little in his finances. No wedding band, but that doesn’t mean anything nowadays. But if I see a tell-tale tan line on that finger where a ring should be or until recently was, it makes me think of alternatives: divorced? Widowered? Cheating?
The one thing I never do when I’m coming up with characters is model them after people I know, especially my friends. I have been known, though, to take particular quirks or habits and plant them in a character. For instance, I love Diet Mountain Dew soda. In one of my books, I had my heroine addicted to the stuff, just like I am. That’s a very real quirk and giving the characters something that mimics true life makes them seem more real to the reader.
After I think up my characters, I name them, remembering first and foremost that their parents really named them, not me! To do this correctly, I use a babynaming book and look up the popular names for the year they were born in, and their heritage. I would never name someone of Lithuanian ancestry Aphrodite, for instance. I would, though, if she was first generation Greek.
Last, I troll Pinterest. I truly think the person who thought up the Pinterest app was a writer at heart. I do this so I can get an actual picture of the character to fit the picture in my head that I think she/he looks like. I can write that my heroine has long deep chocolate brown hair and green eyes, cut cheekbones and a full, thick mouth with a defined cupid’s bow, but having a picture of Angelina Jolie to refer to makes the character more easily relatable to me and the reader and makes her more real.
So that’s my process for character creation.
Can’t Stand the Heat
by Peggy Jaeger
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
With three successful TV series under her belt, including her cousin Kandy’s, executive producer Stacy Peters is ready to helm her own show. But to make that happen, she has to do her network boss one favor first—spend two months on a ranch in Montana wrangling the notoriously difficult director of Beef Battles. Apparently, he eats producers for breakfast. Yet all Stacy can think when she meets the lean, rugged man is how hungry he makes her . . .
Dominic Stamp—Nikko to his very few friends—has had enough interference from TV newbies. And when Stacy climbs out of the car in Montana, he’s not convinced she’s even old enough to drive, much less produce his show. But he can’t deny that the long-legged blonde with the stubborn will and the dazzling smile whets his appetite. And as Stacy proves her talent with the crew and the budget alike, Nikko vows to prove to her that love is on the menu for both of them . . .
“I wish you’d do that more often,” he said, his hand circling her upper arm as he turned her, slowly, back to face him.
He stared at her a beat, the line between his brows deepening. “Smile.”
Flabbergasted, she stood, rooted.
“More specifically,” he added, “smile at me. You do at everyone else. From Dixon, to his son; the crew. Even Melora. Everyone, but me.”
His grip tightened a little as he pulled her in closer, their torsos almost touching.
“Why? Why can you show everyone else that little piece of yourself, but not me?”
“I…I don’t know how to answer that,” she said. “I know I was thrust on you without you wanting me here. I know you don’t like me, I—“
“That’s not true. I didn’t want to like you,” he admitted. “There’s a difference. You’re a producer. A bottom line watcher. An annoying necessity. Liking you goes against the grain.”
At that she did smile, because she knew it was true.
“See now,” he said, as he slid his other hand up her arm to settle on the back of her neck, fingers curling up into her hair to hold on. “When you do that? When you smile at me like that, so openly, so…freely? I can’t think about anything else.”
A gentle tug and he had her head pillowed in his spread palms as he bent his own down to hers.
Through her glasses she watched the fine whiskey in his eyes blend with the ink of his pupils as they dilated.
“I haven’t been able to think clearly about anything for the past few days.” His mouth was a whisper from hers. His gaze skimmed from her eyes to her mouth and back again in one slow string of heat. “Except for this.”
She thought she’d be prepared for the feel of his lips on hers again. After all, she’d done little else but reminisce about their texture and taste for days. But she was wrong.
Nothing could have ever prepared her for the way the slight pressure he placed on the back of her neck as he brought her closer sent a shiver of such carnal delight down her spine she almost hummed. Or the way his breath, warm and full, felt as it washed over her cheeks. And she certainly wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions he released within her when he quite expertly parted her lips and deepened the kiss, pulling at her very soul.
No, nothing in her life had equipped her with how to deal with Nikko Stamp’s kiss.
So she simply let go of all thought, fear, and concern, and surrendered to it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
Tying into her love of families, her children's book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.
Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.
In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader's Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0
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