Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fictional Characters & Historical figures

by Lyn Horner

Recently, Charlene Raddon of Cover-OPs http://cover-ops.blogspot.com/ designed new covers for my Texas Devlins series. She and I both spent many hours searching for models to portray my characters, not an easy task in some cases. I think we succeeded fairly well, but this got me thinking about how I come to "see" the people in my stories. Do they pop into my mind full blown like Athena from the head of Zeus? No! They are never that obliging.

Usually, my imaginary friends (they do become my friends) take shape gradually. They begin as shadowy figures with one or two distinctive characteristics, like Jessie Devlin's red hair and fiery temper. Yes, she's Irish and I gave her those stereotypical traits with backstory to explain them. Other facets of her appearance and personality are a compilation of real people, either ones I've met or seen on TV and movies -- or historical figures. This is true with all of my characters.

For instance, Captain David Taylor, Jessie's dream hero in Darlin' Irish, is based partly on Mac Traven, Tom Selleck's character in The Shadow Riders, one of my favorite Louis L'Amour novels and TV westerns. Mac is a Texan who fought for the North in the Civil War, the same as David Taylor. However, David is edgier than Mac and unlike the Traven family, David's father considers him a traitor. This is what happened to many southern-born soldiers who sided with the Union.



6 Generals Who Fought Against their Home State in the Civil War: A native of Southampton County, Virginia, George Thomas was a career soldier who had served with distinction in the Mexican-American War and later taught at West Point. But despite his strong southern roots—he’d grown up on a plantation and even owned slaves—Thomas refused to break his oath to the U.S. Army and remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War. The decision sent shock waves through the South. J.E.B. Stuart, a former pupil of Thomas’ at West Point, said he deserved to be hanged as a traitor. Even his own sister disowned him, writing that he had been, “false to his state, his family, and to his friends.”

Lil Crawford, the heroine of Dashing Irish, Is based on real cowgirls who worked as hard as any man on ranches and trail drives. Some wore riding skirts, others wore britches. Virtually all were well versed in riding, roping, branding and handling a gun. They were not your average pioneer woman in calico and poke bonnet, but neither were they all that rare. The same goes for Lil's mixed blood lineage. She's one quarter Cherokee because her mother was the offspring of a French fur trapper and an Indian woman. Many a white man on the western frontier took an Indian wife, including some of my ancestors.



One of my favorite characters in Choctaw Jack from Dearest Irish. Jack is a half breed (actually three quarters) who works as a cowboy part of the year and a blacksmith the rest of the time for the Army at Fort Sill in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma.) He's also a Confederate veteran who fought with one of the Indian brigades in the Civil War. Think I made that up? Nope. In his very cool little book CIVIL WAR in the Indian Territory, Steve Cottrell says, "...Choctaws and Chickasaws, whose lands bordered Texas, readily sided with the South..." Other tribes fought for the North.

 
 
Authors gain inspiration from many sources and I'm no different in that. The next time you fall in love with a fictional character, think about what might have gone into creating him or her. Just for the fun of it, you could even look for stories on the internet about real people who bear a similarity to that character. You might learn some surprising historical facts.
 
 
Meanwhile, let me know what you think of my new book covers. Do the people depicted on them catch your eye? Do they tempt you to get acquainted with them in the pages of the book? I would love to know.
 
Oh, in case you're wondering, there is a Texas Devlins, Book One. Titled White Witch, it's a novella introducing the Devlins before they head west to Texas.
 
You can find all of my books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y
 
 
 

 

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful covers there, Lyn. I think many of us base our characters and stories on real people and/or real-life events. You've chosen some fascinating ones for your Devlins series. :-)

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  2. I love the new covers. The colors are so much prettier than the originals. Best wishes for many sales.

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  3. Hello Sarah, again a most interesting article. All the best.

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  4. Thanks, Kathleen. Glad you like them. I enjoy making my characters a little "different". As you may know, the three Devlin sibs all possess a psychic gift. Jessie is a pre-cog with visions of the future. Tye is an empathy who feels others' emotions, too much at times. Rose is has the ability to heal with her mind.

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  5. I agree, Caroline. I'm done doing my own covers. It takes know-how I don't possess. So glad you like the new ones!

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  6. Hi JoAnne. You got me mixed up with Sarah, but I don't mind. I'm happy you enjoyed my post. Sure hope you'll stop by and visit me again. :-)

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  7. Hi Lyn,

    Great looking covers all. Look forward to reading the third in the series soon!

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  8. Lyn, I think your covers are colorful and beautiful--just like the stories inside. There's nothing like truth and real people in history to inspire fictional characters. I like it when real historical characters are included in fictional work, too.
    I wish the very best of everything.

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  9. Hi Cheri, good to see you here. Hope you enjoy the read when you get to it.

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  10. That's so sweet of you to say, Sarah. Glad you like the covers! I agree, including real people from history in our stories really enriches them. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. Great information, Lyn, and the new covers are fitting and beautiful. I Know you're glad you did this. Hope this creates a lot of sales.

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  12. Congratulations on all the updated covers, Lyn. They're great and I am so happy for you. I think they convey the characters better, too. :)

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  13. Thank you, Celia. Yes, I am glad I went ahead had the covers redone. From now on, I will hire a pro every time.

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  14. Thanks, Ashley. I'm happy to hear from you and pleased you like the covers. I also hope they bring more sales.

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  15. Hi Lyn,
    It is hard to find cover models when they are already in your mind- but isn't it fun to look for the perfect couple? Congratulations on the new covers.

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  16. Great covers, Lyn! We do base our characters on real and fictional people. Good post.

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  17. Thanks, Linda! Yes, it's great fun looking for models, especially the men. Wink!

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  18. Paty, I'm glad you like the covers and my post. Thanks for stopping by.

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