Musical Inspiration for a Love Story
I've only recently been introduced to the concept of creating a playlist to go along with a book. I'd seen it done before, mind you, but I never really associated that idea with the way I write. Then my magnificent friend, Arlem Hawks, started asking our writing group what songs we thought matched up to our characters and their love stories. I happened to be starting work on Miss Devon's Choice at the time, and my hero in that novel is a musician. I was struggling to capture him on paper the way he was in my head, so I started listening to violin music. Suddenly, he came to life.
Every time I struggled with a scene in Miss Devon's Choice, I found a song I thought conveyed the emotion of a character or the overall feelings I was trying to create between the two of them. Before I knew it, I had a playlist I listened to every time I started to write about Christian and Rebecca.
Now that a few months have gone by since the book was published, I still find myself listening to that particular list. I'm going to share it here, and I think this will be part of my writing process for all future books, too.
For your reading AND listening pleasure, the Rebecca & Christian Playlist.
The Hero of Miss Devon's Choice Based On a Specific Person
You know, I very rarely cast my characters with actors. I just don't do it. I like them to exist in my head independently of a living person. I've never done it with a female character in any of my published work. Never. I've now done it with males TWICE.
I told lots of people about Lucas, from The Earl and His Lady, being modeled after a young Teddy Spears. That was fine, because I just came across a picture of the actor when he was in his early thirties. I've never even seen the man in anything, though I'm assured he's a lovely actor.
And then I started writing Miss Devon's Choice. This story is so special to me in many ways. It's hard to explain how hard I worked on it, how much I wanted my characters to be true to themselves. I mean, they're made-up people. It can't be THAT hard to make them do whatever I want!
But I struggled with getting Christian on the page. For those who have read the book, you know he's a man who's been deeply wounded in the past. His physical and emotional scars have made him into a man with rigid defenses. And it was just so hard to get in his head and keep the story moving. Honestly, he wanted to walk away from every scene in the book! That's how they all naturally ended the first time I wrote them, with Christian walking away in disgust/anger/defeat. You might be able to get away with that once or twice in a story, but then it just doesn't work! The plot dies!
So I needed help. I made a list of every "broken" male character I love, from books and movies.
Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo
Sirius Black and Severus Snape, The Harry Potter Series
Kylo Ren, Star Wars
Joquin Phoenix's portrayal of Johnny Cash
Erik, The Phantom of the Opera
Gowan, When Calls the Heart
Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
Lord Death, Katurah and Lord Death
Alejandro Murrieta, The Mask of Zorro
Adam, AKA The Dangerous Duke, Seeking Persephone
My list was even longer with some pretty obscure people on it. So these are all male characters who were hurt or hurting in pretty significant ways. Their scars propelled their reactions to events unfolding around them. With these fictional men in my head, all dark and gloomy sorts, driven by negative emotions, I started figuring out how I could take a guy like that and make him my hero.
Of course, all these guys are also motivated by revenge at one time or another, and I didn't include any of that in Christian's character. :-) But I wanted you to feel like this guy could be dangerous if he chose to be, or tender and gentle.
I chased the tender and gentle aspect of these characters.
And I found Christian. But I really needed his face at this point. I had to figure out what he looked like. And I had these heroes/anti-heroes in my head still. So one day, scrolling through Pinterest, I saw this:
It's Adam Driver, folks, the actor playing Kylo Ren/BEN SOLO (may the Star Wars Storytellers hear my plea!), looking like he'd just stepped out of a historical drama. Look at those cheekbones. Those features that, really, are NOT classically attractive. And yet, that stare. Those eyes! From this image alone, you can believe this guy could play Edmund Dantes, Sirius Black, or Lord Death. You could see him being powerful and dangerous.
But...I wanted GENTLE. *sigh* And then this image showed up:
There you go. That's the money shot, right there. I don't even know what this image is from. But do you see how the hard looking, strangely attractive guy from the first image can melt into this gentle soul holding a baby? I had it. I couldn't unsee it. Christian suddenly had a face, and any time I wrote his scenes, I was picturing Adam Driver in the role.
I've only seen ONE Adam Driver role. His role in Star Wars. And yes. I'm a Star Wars geek. I love the novelizations, the movies, the toys, the metal lunch boxes, the whole of it. Honestly, the storytelling at work in the original trilogy is astounding. Hero cycle at its best. But I digress.
All this to say, if anyone wants to turn this book into a movie, please get Adam Driver to play my heroic lead. Because as soon as I cast him in my head, as soon as I could picture what Christian would look like and sound like when he spoke, how he would move, the words came so much easier. In fact, Christian's perspective makes up more of the story than Rebecca's because it became easy to live in his head.
Christian is one of my favorites. I adore him. And it helps that, in MY head at least, he's played by someone who also stars in one of my favorite movie franchises. ;-)
Name inspiration comes from crazy places, and I find names I love EVERYWHERE. I actually have a spreadsheet with something like 200 first and last names from the Regency period. I've used that list a lot for characters. But sometimes, a name just falls out of the sky...
Or at least falls open in your lap.
My family loves used books. I recently found all the Lemony Snicket books for my oldest daughter to read. While paging through a used copy of The Carnivorous Carnival, I happened to look at the front page. There, in sweet little boy handwriting, was the most perfect name for a Regency hero...
I knew at once I must use it. I messaged my critique partners with the name. They all agreed it was perfect, but for WHO? One of them even threatened to steal the name of I didn't use it soon! (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Joanna!)
Then I started thinking about Rebecca Devon and her love story. Who would be perfect for Rebecca? What sort of man would fall for her?
Of course, it would be Christian Hundley, Lord Easton. A viscount. And suddenly, he burst into my mind. :-) I think everyone is going to love him!
What are some of the best names you've heard? What names would you use in a novel?
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3)
ratings: 1062 (avg rating 4.21)
The Earl and His Lady (Branches of Love #4)
ratings: 1008 (avg rating 4.36)
The Gentleman Physician (Branches of Love #2)
ratings: 680 (avg rating 4.20)
The Social Tutor (Branches of Love #1)
ratings: 656 (avg rating 4.11)
Miss Devon's Choice (Branches of Love #5)
ratings: 517 (avg rating 4.45)