After I get the "germ" of an idea for a story and let it ferment, then I work on creating my characters.
I usually start with the hero. In The Hungarian, Count Matthias Duma has a secret – he's a werewolf. I started drafting his timeline first. When was he born? Who were his parents? I filled out a mini-character biography including 3 likes and 3 dislikes. Then I cast the character.
For me, casting the characters give an extra layer to the characterization – a visual picture that I can see of my character. For Matthias, I cast Jonathon Rhys-Meyers. I've seen Rhys-Meyers in The Tudors, and one of the things I thought he captured well was simmering intensity. I used that for Matthias's character. Matthias has a lot of simmering emotions underneath the cool presentation he gives the world due to his condition.
I did the same for my heroine, Katherine Archibald, creating a biography for her and I cast an actress that I saw on As The World Turns, Justine Cotsonas. Justine had the look I wanted for Katherine – long flowing curly hair that Matthias could sink his fingers into. Justine's smile in her stills speaks to an innocence and purity which I brought to the character.
Lastly, I wrote several short stories allowing me to really know the characters well before I sat down with the novel.
It may sound like a lot of work, but this process allowed me to create characters that I enjoyed writing about, full of life and love.
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