Characters. Who are they and where do they come from?
For me, they are often a combination of traits pulled from: real life family and friends + celebrities (none of whom I ever obsess over, I SWEAR IT) + characters in books + characters in TV shows. Movies don’t usually inspire me in the same way as TV, because I don’t spend much time with those characters.
Over the course of my life, so many characters have become good friends. Lately, I’ve spent the most time with my own characters. And in the movie of my mind, these are the actors that play those characters:
Although I had the idea for Grace well before the rest of the book, she was the last one I cast. I had trouble with her. The thing with Grace is that she was a good girl before everything went bad — so she had to at least look like she had the potential for both angel and devil.
At first, I cast her as Katie Holmes. Katie often looks sad to me, as if she’s missing a part of her that she once possessed. It could just be the shape of her eyes, but it seems like something more. That was the mood I was going for with her.
But then as I was going through hundreds and thousands of stock photos for the cover image, this woman appeared. And she IS Grace. Grace all fancy, but still, you get the idea. Pretty, with an edge.
Lily was Amanda Seyfried from the first second I conceived of her. She’s more “Veronica Mars” Amanda than “Mamma Mia” Amanda, however. In fact, my Lily is VERY similar to Lilly Kane in Veronica Mars — spunky, gutsy, irreverent, and beautiful.
p.s. If you haven’t watched Veronia Mars and love well-told stories, you MUST. It’s on Amazon Prime Instant Video. It’s so much more complex, deep, and interesting than the normal young adult fare.
Smoldering, sexy, and a little weathered — that’s how I like my men. And that’s how Grace likes hers too! Who fits that bill better than Matthew McConaughey? Like a fine wine, he only gets better with age. Harry’s about a decade younger than Matthew, but looks very similar. Easy on the eyes. 😉
Shawna’s been through a couple of casting choices. In the end, it was a toss up between Joy Bryant (Parenthood) and Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones). I really didn’t like Joy’s character Jasmine in Parenthood, but Nathalie wasn’t quite right for the role. She’s too perfectly pretty, too good girl. In the end, Joy’s eclectic style won her the role. Both she and Shawna can go from grunge to ethereal, to elegant or hippy.
Ohhh, Papa Deacon. We only see a glimpse of him in Book 1, but he’s there in all his glory. As a Funeral Director, he carries a certain amount of weight around with him, and that’s aged him past his 54 years. He’s usually wearing a suit, even when he’s “relaxing.” I envisioned him as Martin Sheen around the end of the West Wing era early on in the process, and it stuck.
Sometimes I come up with a character profile and find an actor to fit it, and sometimes the actor materializes in my mind along with the character profile. In June’s case, Christina Hendricks came to mind RIGHT away. In fact, all throughout my novel drafts I kept slipping and writing “Joan” rather than “June.” Think a Mad Men binge had anything to do with it?
Helen was actually based (her looks only) on a friend of my grandmother’s who died recently. But if I had to cast her with a well-known actress, Helen Mirren would do the trick. Well, an older Helen Mirren. Did you know she was only 69? I just looked it up. By the way Hollywood talks about her you would think she had at least reached Octogenarian status.
So, what do you think? Do you agree? Who do you envision in these roles?
One last thing. If a TV network (HBO? Showtime? Anyone?) decided to pick this up, this would be the theme song. Joy Williams is a goddess on Earth: