When Characters Breathe
I know most serious writers live and breathe in the world that they create. Some of us live in our stories longer, diving deeper into the environment, the characters, and the history. I know one author who mapped out an astrological chart describing where the planets and moons were at each historical event in his world. Tolkien not only created an intricate language for his world, but dialects of that language before he began to write Lord of the Rings.
So it isn’t unusual for an author to dream about their books becoming movies. They already know their characters. They live them, think them, and breathe them. They have seen their dwelling places, the streets they walk, the space ships they travel in, the horses they ride. The weapons they use and most importantly, at least for me, their hopes, their dreams, their disappointments, their mistakes, and their victories.
The latter is what makes movie making so enchanting. I find nothing sweeter than to talk with an actor about who it is they will be playing. I had a wonderful conversation the other day with actor Bill Read from Seattle. When he auditioned he did so for one of the journalists, a small part in Cassandra’s Castle. But from the moment I saw his head shot I knew he was Ian. I know Ian inside out. I know who Ian was as a boy (Deception Peak) and the struggles he went through to the present. When Bill messaged me he reiterated how much he felt this part was the part he’d been waiting for. Wow! What a thing to tell an author and potential filmmaker! And then we talked about who Ian was, his relationship with his wife, Abbi, and with his daughter Cassie. We talked about Ian and his part in the Realm, the parallel world that he traveled to.
I’ve had the same conversations with many of the actors that have been cast for parts in the series. What was really neat was that even the men who play the villains are falling in love with their characters. Why?
It’s been over two years since I completed the novel, Cassandra’s Castle. In those two years I have been writing backstory about each and every person in the novel. One of my college majors was pastoral counseling and my studies included, of course, understanding how and why people do what they do. What happens in a person’s past that can make him violent? Or shy? Or needy? Why do people fall in love with each other and with those reasons, will their relationship last? Is it really love or just codependency?
There are so many factors to consider when developing characters. I find the process exciting. Take for instance my villain Valerio. If you met him today you’d think he’s heartless. Nothing he does looks even halfway humane. But Valerio boils over with hate for King Chavez, whose military leaders, in a story I haven’t even written, put Valerio’s father in danger during the course of a war. His father, a personal friend of the royal family, was killed. Nothing was ever said. No apology, nothing. Of course, King Chavez was not personally informed about the details of the event but Valerio will cut him no quarter. Then, to add insult to injury, Chavez betroths Valerio’s beloved duchess to his son. Not the king’s oldest son the heir -but the king’s youngest son. An insult he takes personally. Valerio is committed to a path of vengeance, and he strives for it mercilessly.
Sean Peck-Collier plays Valerio and our conversation about the man has been stimulating. Bouncing these tales back and forth between the actor and the author make these character come to life. It’s amazing.
I was never one to enjoy soap operas when I was younger. I used to think my friends were crazy talking about the characters in those shows as if they were next door neighbors.
And now, here I am, conversing about these people in my stories as though I’ve known them all my life.
And I feel as though I have.
Dianne is an author and illustrator of YA adventure fantasy with a dab of historical content thrown in. Building worlds that might resemble the forests of her home in the Pacific Northwest, or the shimmering deserts of Arizona, add to that a pinch of magic dust and a few million stars and you just might find the portal to another Realm.
Happily married to a man that puts up with her celestial wanderings and wonderings, she is the mother of seven lovely adult children and grandmother to sixteen gorgeous boys and girls.
Dianne loves writing, painting in oils and living in other dimensions. She finds life much more colorful that way! Her books are middle grade to young adult adventure fantasies with dragons and wizards and sorcery and battles on the high seas. Her grandchildren are a big inspiration for her stories. There’s a shared camaraderie, something akin to what C.S. Lewis said about someday being old enough to enjoy fairy tales again.
Dianne has a series that is being re released by PDMI Publishing, LLC. Deception Peak and Dragon Shield are available now. The audio version narrated by Canadian voice Matt Josdal, and music by Lexa Rose are also available.
Stretching her tent stakes, she is working on an Indie Film production of her V book Cassandra’s Castle which should be out in the not so distant future.
Watch it all happen!