by Paul D. Marks
Most of my characters are based on people I know or have known, or see or have seen in my various life adventures, at least in part. Those adventures can be anything from mundane daily life events like walking the dogs, going to the market or bookstore, to more exciting things, such as SCUBA diving and a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime experience like pulling a gun on the LAPD! They are also, of course, based on me and most of them have a part of me in them. It could be a big part or a little part, but since I know me better than I know anyone else there’s always some seepage by osmosis. Sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously.
Both my lead and secondary characters are based on people I’ve known through the years. And then there’s part of a name here or there, from people I’ve known. Bad guys are often based on people I, uh, don’t like... But to say that this character or that is based on me or so-and-so wouldn’t be accurate because for the most part they’re composites of people I know or have come across.
And some of them are simply based on observations of people I see here or there. For example, I was in the original Barney’s Beanery (click the link for Barney’s to read a history of it, it’s pretty interesting: https://barneysbeanery.com/about/), a famous LA dive and two guys were playing pool, got into a fight. Beer flying. Pool cues cracking. It ended up as a scene in something I was working on.
Everything and everyone is fair game. Writers observe and borrow from everything – people watching in the airport, making up stories in our heads about who they are and what they’re doing. Or sometimes a friend does something or tells us about an experience in their life that we find compelling, which we “borrow” for a story. Often they’ll be very loosely based on something we’ve heard or read about. For example a friend might have gone through an unpleasant divorce and told you about it, but in your story you embellish so one of the divorcing couple plots to murder the other, whereas in real life the unpleasantness might have only been in arguing over who gets to keep the dog. So watch what you say or do in front of a writer, you might just end up in their next book….
***And now for the usual BSP: Check out David Cranmer's interview with me at: http://davidcranmer.blogspot.com/2016/03/drinking-with-nilsson-freaking-out-mork.html
And check out my article on Vortex and the Green Absinthe Fairy at Mystery Playground's Drinks with Reads:
Anthony voters please consider my short story, "My Enemies Have Sweet Voices", from Down & Out Books’ anthology Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea, for Best Short Story.
And please consider Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea for Best Anthology.