Character Research

I was coming out of Court this week and ran into an attorney friend of mine who stopped to talk about The Trust.  Prior to last week I hadn’t told a lot of people about the book mainly because I was overly cautious, not wanting to jinx the pending publication.  It was not until after my publisher said everything had been shipped to the printer did I let people know it was on the way.  Since then I have had a number of conversations about the release and I am always humbled and flattered.
So I’m talking to my friend and he asked me what the book was about.  While I haven’t told a lot of people about the pending publication, a number of people knew I had written a book and the most frequent question was what I had just been asked.  So it was no problem to give a 30 second overview that hopefully left him with the, “I have to buy a copy and read it!” feeling.  
Then he threw me a curve ball of a question – “So am I in the book?”  My unusual silence must have been a bit on the disconcerting side for him.  I thought about it a moment and then it occurred to me that in fact, I had based a character on him.  So I told him that I had.  Then it occurred to me that the character I created based upon him meets a rather unfortunate and untimely end in the follow up to The Trust.  Needless to say that comment got a rather uncomfortable chuckle from him though I am sure he walked away feeling the need to look over his shoulder to make sure I wasn’t following him.
After my chance meeting I started to think about how I create my characters.  I find that as the character starts to come to life on the pages, I start to visualize people I know or people I have seen and then start to build the character around that visualization.  Sometimes it is a mash up of several individuals, sometimes it’s a single person (when this happens I find myself having to be careful so as to not be too obvious).  
So is this normal or odd, who know?  However, I find it the process works for me.  It allows me to picture a face, a body style, mannerisms that I have seen, of any of a number of similar traits or characteristics.  There’s probably a little artistic license, but after all, its my book, so basically whatever works.

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