Today I’m delighted to present a guest post written by Susan Buchanan as a part of the blog tour for her newest release Sign of the Times!
Guest Post by Susan Buchanan
How I come up with my characters
I love creating characters. I do have to give some credit to the late Maeve Binchy as reading her books made me realise what kind of characters I wanted to create – people you’d want to spend time with, and who were ordinary, everyday people, but with a story to tell.
There are so many facets to character creation. I had a real field day with Sign of the Times, my first book, which has 12 main characters, and a supporting cast of hundreds! That kept me on my toes, I can tell you. One of the most fun parts initially was choosing names. Naturally, the first name I chose was Holly, the first protagonist in Sign of the Times. Holly was my first choice for a girl’s name if I had kids, but by the time I wrote my first book, I didn’t have kids, so Holly it was. I then figured I couldn’t exactly call my daughter Holly when she came along a few years later.
For that first book, I chose a mix of names I liked and names that were likely at the time in the area. Although much of the book is set in Scotland, and I do use some Scottish names, I don’t actually like when books set in Scotland give all the characters overly Scottish names – I might have a Fergus, and I might steer clear of Giles, as nobody I have ever met here in Scotland is called Giles, but I’d also have some common or garden names like Tom, Jack, which are found equally elsewhere in the UK. My class at school wasn’t full of Calums, Camerons, Ferguses, Iains, Murdochs, Archies, and the like, but Stephens, Marks, Johns, Jameses, Darrens and Michaels. Whether it’s Scotland or Singapore, Italy or Ireland I’m writing about, I like to stray further than just Murdo McLeod and Patrick Murphy as character names!
I try to make my characters as different from each other as possible. With Sign of the Times it was pretty easy as each character had the traits, interests and jobs typical to people of their sign. So, firstly we had Holly, the fiercely loyal Sagittarian travel writer.
In The Dating Game, the protagonist, workaholic Gill, has a supporting cast of friends – probably Lisa, her man-eating friend was the most fun to write. She so did not suffer fools gladly. Her moral compass was totally different to Gill’s, but it was the differences that made the dynamic between the girls so special. Angela, Gill’s bestie, who is always there for Gill, and who is a vet and married with young children has a family life very different to Gill’s own.
The Christmas Spirit and Return of the Christmas Spirit each have a central character who engineers matters so that the lives of those she has chosen are improved over the festive period. In each book, there are five main characters, and I specifically chose a split of ages, genders, education levels and family dynamics so the reader could differentiate the characters as much as possible. That was so much fun.
I love being able to invent something out of nothing, or rather someone. In the past, I’d start with name, age, physical attributes, job etc, a little like a CV, but over time, I’ve come to work on each character portrait more as a mind map – connections to other people, how people view them, how they view themselves, their positive and negative traits, how they would react in a certain situation, their flaws, vulnerabilities, their goals, what makes them tick. This list only expands with every character and every book.
In my new series, Just One Day, the protagonist Louisa’s name just popped into my head. Sometimes I see people’s names on social media, or an old schoolfriend will announce the birth of a new baby or grandchild, and I love then name, and use it. Or I nick the names from my kids’ friend and their siblings! So, thanks Brodie, Brennan, Ayren, Max, Alba, Aria, and many more for letting me steal your names! I was at a writing conference over the weekend and our waitress was called Alyssa. Subconsciously there always seems to be a character whose name begins with A in my books, but I haven’t had an Alyssa, so now you can look out for one.
Making up characters is one of the privileges of being a writer, and I enjoy every minute of it.
Sign of the Times
Sagittarius – Travel writer Holly heads to Tuscany to research her next book, but when she meets Dario, she knows she’s in trouble. Can she resist temptation? And what do her mixed feelings mean for her future with her fiancé?
Gemini – Player Lucy likes to keep things interesting and has no qualms about being unfaithful to her long-term boyfriend. A cardiology conference to Switzerland changes Lucy, perhaps forever. Has she met her match, and is this feeling love?
Holly is the one who links the twelve signs. Are you ready to meet them all?
A tale of love, family, friendship and the lengths we go to in pursuit of our dreams.
Author Bio – – Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband, their two young children and a crazy Labrador called Benji. She has been reading since the age of four and had to get an adult library pass early as she had read the entire children’s section by the age of ten.
Susan writes contemporary fiction, often set in Scotland, usually featuring travel, food or Christmas. When not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, Susan loves reading (obviously), the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!
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Giveaway to Win Signed copies of Just One Day – Winter and Sign of the Times (UK Only)
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Thank you to Susan for her wonderful post- it was fascinating to get insight into creative process of asuccessful writer!
Thank you for stopping by and reading the post. If you would like to find out more about Susan’s book, here is the full blog tour schedule: