Coming Home by Holly Kerr (Media Blast)

Brenna Ebans always wanted more than what Hill n’Valley could give her, so it seemed a simple decision to follow her black-sheep sister Dory’s footsteps and leave Hill n’Valley in her rearview, hoping to locate their missing father. Leaving her sisters and her first love Seamus was harder than she thought, she’s made a life for herself in Vancouver, started her career at a prestigious law firm, and has found the man of her dreams. But when she finds her husband Toby in a compromising position at work, she loses both her love and her job, and has nowhere to go but home.

Youngest sister Cat has remained in Hill n’Valley, leaving a string of broken hearts—and ex-husbands—in her wake. She’s happy living in the family home, with the ghost of their dead mother to keep her company during the day, and her latest conquest—Brenna’s old boyfriend, Seamus—to keep her warm at night. And she’s less than thrilled to hear about Brenna’s return.

But when tragedy strikes, it brings their father back to Hill n’Valley, and the three sisters will have a lot of issues to resolve…

Holly KerrHolly Kerr:  Ask any writer and they’ll tell you they have always wrote and Holly Kerr is no exception. She’s written stories about bunnies dodging cars and sisters dying, distracting the cute boy in class and dark plots to kill your best friend’s husband.  Coming Home is her latest novel, a story about sisters who can’t get along and living in a small town, two things she knows more than a little about!  A self-professed geek, she loves anything to do with Star Wars, super heroes, Joss Whedon and Harry Potter. She also enjoys running, playing in the dirt and sharing a glass of wine with friends.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Coming Home.

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Turning Friends into Characters

I recently read a quote by J.K. Rowling that said there was a part of her in the characters of Harry, Hermione and Ron.

That makes sense.

I constantly use my own idiosyncrasies and habits in creating  my protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters…the write-what-you-know rule has always been drummed in me and who do you know better than yourself?

Writers observe; they take in as much as they can – sight, sounds, smells, etc – and use those observations to create.  The homeless man on the corner can spark something, as can the way your mother used to yell at you to pick up your dirty clothes.

What about using friends as the basis of your characters though?

Imagine your best friend wrote a book and your heart is bursting with pride.  As you’re racing through the pages, trying to finish as quickly as you can to be able to write a glowing review for her, you come across a character…that sounds a lot like you.

She never mentioned you were in her book.

Not everyone would want themselves portrayed in print.  Sure if, it’s a glowingly positive image of you, you might be flattered.  But what if it’s not?

Hopefully, if she’s that good of a friend, she won’t mention to all about how you once got so sick from tequila that you threw up and then spent long minutes investigating the inner workings of the toilet? Or about how you got a speeding ticket and embarrassed yourself trying to get out it.  Or about how you accidently let a fart escape as you laughed during a presentation.  What if you were reading along and found your worst memory embedded in the pages of her book?

Advice for the author:  Don’t make it obvious that you’re using a friend as the basis of a character.  Be subtle; don’t take everything about them!  And if you do make it obvious, tell your friend.  For my new book, I came right out and told the boys from the store they were going in as characters and they loved the idea.  Some people will love the thought of being in a book.  Some people won’t.  Always be respectful.

For me, it’s more fun to use friends as characters when it’s not obvious.  When the friend doesn’t even know you’re borrowing quirks and traits.  I have a character in my first book, Baby! Baby? Baby?!  that is based on a friend of mine, and she’s never once realized this!  It’s my little secret.

For the reader: be flattered if you’re included in a book.  Realize that you made enough of an impact in someone’s life for them to immortalize you.  They have observed something about you – hopefully not too embarrassing – that has helped them create.  You are an inspiration. You are a muse.  You are important to them.

Plus, sometimes situations or eccentricities are too memorable NOT to be used. My friend who counted all the holes in the toilet after she threw up?  That scene is so going in my next book!  Sorry, Cheryl!

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