Today we have Ashley Ladd, chatting about where her character ideas come from. She's also going to share her blurb and excerpt from her latest release, Business or Pleasure, a m/m contemporary romance. She'll be giving away a copy (epub or pdf) of Business or Pleasure to one lucky comment leaver!
Where Character Ideas Come From
By Ashley Ladd
Recently I’ve been asked this question a lot in author interviews – where do character ideas come from?
Okay, that’s a bit vague isn’t it?
Think of it this way. The universe bombards us with ideas, especially in this day and age when media barrages us with millions of websites, at least five hundred TV stations aired by every cable provider, radio shows, newspapers, magazines, email groups, Facebook, Twitter... It’s not merely tough to keep ideas at bay, it’s nearly impossible.
Whether we like it or not ideas fly at us from these sources. We just have to open our eyes and ears to be receptive to these juicy tid bits. In my case, it helps to jot down my observations so I will remember them. Then I massage those ideas into a full-blown person (or several people) for one of my stories. Sometimes, they appear in my dreams, morphed into a three-dimensional character. Lots of times, I’ll brainstorm when I’m ready to put the story together and mix and match aspects of one real life character with one or more others, to create a unique character.
Of course, ideas come from real life too.
I pay attention to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. And I watch people at the mall too. Just sit in the food court at any mall in America, especially on a weekend, and a host of fascinating characters parade by, ripe for the picking. Snippets of interesting conversation abound as well.
I’m a pantser, so I often add scenes and minor characters to my stories as I write. While I’m in the middle of a story, I’m particularly receptive to ideas. For instance, while starting a recent book, an infuriated father yelled at the TV that his young children were being exposed to Furries (people who dress up in furry animal costumes when they attend meetings and conventions—for fun) at the hotel where they were staying. He was absolutely incensed and wanted everybody to know how amiss the hotel was to book a Furry convention at the same time a children’s sports convention was staying at their establishment. I was barely paying attention to the TV that my husband was watching but this scenario jumped out at me, practically yelling, “Great character idea! Pay attention!”
From there, I researched furries and hotels and came up with several fun characters and scenarios.
It’s not that mysterious. At least not in my case. I can’t speak for other authors, but this works for me. I hope my characters live, breathe, and walk off the pages as you read about them and I hope you enjoy every one of them.
Blurb for Business or Pleasure:
Guy Rogers is extremely attracted to his new realtor, Tom Beaudreaux. As a passionate vegetarian and animal activist, he’s ecstatic that Tom is a kindred soul. He could never be with a carnivore. Unfortunately, Tommy isn’t really a vegetarian or animal activist. He never said he was either, he just didn’t eat meat when he was with Guy. And maybe he emptied his house of all meat and dairy products before inviting Guy over. In fact, Tommy’s family owns the most popular barbecue restaurant in town and if his family has their way, he’ll manage the new location.
When Guy finds out that Tommy eats meat and his family owns a restaurant that is a monument to eating meat, he’s livid and doesn’t know if he wants anything else to do with Tommy.
But then Guy’s life gets crazy –his dad’s paranoia blossoms into violent dementia, he gets arrested for picketing a doggy mill, and then he winds up in even more legal trouble. When Tommy sticks by him through all his trouble and does everything he can to help him, Guy wonders if he’s been too militant and narrow-minded. Perhaps he can learn to live with people who have opposite views.
Excerpt from Business or Pleasure:
Gunshots rang out as they turned onto Guy’s street.
Tommy looked at him and mouthed, “Shit! You don’t think…?”
“I hope not. I don’t know.” Guy pressed the gas pedal to the floor and the car shot forward, fish-tailing.
Tommy fisted the door, hanging on tight. “I hope we’re wrong.”
Guy’s intuition told him he wasn’t. His knuckles turned white they held the steering wheel so tightly. Unafraid for himself but scared for his dad, he pulled into his driveway and jumped out of the car, with Tommy close on his heels.
The woman next door ran outside screaming, tearing out her already tattered hair. She pointed at her front door. “Your father’s shooting up my house and is holding a gun at my dad’s head. He’s going to kill him. You’ve got to do something.”
Tommy yelled as he began dialing on his phone, “I’m calling the police.” As if on cue, police sirens blared in the distance and grew louder by the second.
“I’m going in. I have to stop him.”
“Wait for the police. Don’t put yourself in danger,” Tommy ordered forcefully.
“I have to take the chance. He could kill someone before the police get here. I can’t let that happen.” He put himself in harm’s way for animals, so certainly he could risk his life for his own father and other fellow human beings. He had no choice. It would be his fault if someone got hurt.
So he ran through the open door flailing his arms, hoping he would be in time. “Dad! It’s Guy. Don’t do anything. I’m here. You’ll be okay.”
“He’ll be okay? What about me? He’s got a shotgun pointed at my head threatening to blow it off,” the elderly neighbor cried.
Totally Bound: https://www.totallybound.com/business-or-pleasure
More about Ashley Ladd...
She's been told she has a wicked sense of humor and often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.