Creating characters is an odd thing. For me, it is intuitive and not intellectual at all. Something needs to resonate between me and a character, and then they begin to form themselves into something quite real in my head.
After writing Paris Time Capsule, my fictional character Isabelle de Florian stayed with me- I wanted to write more about her. I was intrigued, I was hooked. Isabelle is loosely based on a real person- the mysterious Madame de Florian who famously abandoned Marthe de Florian’s apartment in Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion in 1940.
Isabelle is the mystery behind Paris Time Capsule-she is the enigma who eludes Cat and Loic over and over again. Isabelle haunts the entire novel, because Cat cannot rest until she discovers the truth as to why Isabelle never returned to her apartment in Paris and why she left her entire estate to Cat.
When I started writing Isabelle into Paris Time Capsule, I became even more intrigued by her myself. I found myself imagining Isabelle during the 1930s- a young girl living in the Jazz Age in Paris, but, like all Europeans, facing the inevitable threat of war.
So, I wanted to delve more into her character. I then tied this together with the abandoned Schloss in East Germany, plus one more idea which I will share in another blog, and then, this in turn became The House By The Lake.
But, coming back to characters resonating with you- it’s one of those strange things that I can’t really explain. It’s just the same as a connection that you might have with another person. It just happens, and in fiction, just as in life, you want to find out more. Of course, as readers, you create your own connections with fictional characters too. In an ideal situation, the reader ‘becomes’ the protagonist in a novel, so a connection becomes almost a merger between yourself and the book.
More on House By The Lake soon.