Earlier this week I got a present from Kathy, my best friend from way back in high school, and her daughter Maria. It’s a t-shirt that says Be careful! Or you will end up in my novel!

If you’ve read Deadtown, you know that Vicky has a niece named Maria. Coincidence? Not really. A few years back, I was visiting Kathy and another high school friend. We sat on the deck at Kathy’s house and watched the kids run around the back yard. Kathy’s daughter Maria was terrific with the younger kids, and everyone had a good time.

Later, when I was writing the first scene that shows Vicky with her niece and nephews, the image that came to mind was Maria and the boys in Kathy’s back yard. So I went with that image. As Vicky’s niece grew in my mind, she became someone who was smart, maybe a little shy, patient with her brothers, and close to her family—a lot like my impressions of the real-life Maria. And she looked like the real-life Maria, too. So I called her Maria, because that was the easiest way for me to hold her image in my mind as I crafted the story.

As I wrote and revised, Deadtown‘s Maria and the real world’s Maria diverged, of course. Vicky’s niece stayed eleven, while the real Maria has grown into a sophisticated teenager. And of course Vicky’s niece developed her own personality as I got to know her better. While I wouldn’t say that I actually “put” Maria in my novel, she definitely served as the inspiration for a character in that book.

So if I look at you funny, it’s probably not that I’m sizing you up as a potential character. In fact, I’m probably not even seeing you but am deep in my own mindscape, watching a scene unfold. Probably. But on the other hand, inspiration comes from everywhere, right?


About nancyholzner

9 responses to “Careful!

  • Spot

    Hi Nancy! I gave you the book recommends on Tom Piccirilli’s Facebook Page. Thought I would check out your page. Love that shirt!

    I will now have to find your book and read it too!


  • nancyholzner

    Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 Yeah, the shirt is fun. The funny thing is that another friend gave me a coffee mug with a similar slogan. And I swear I don’t (purposely) mine my friends for character traits!

  • GlamKitty

    Fantastic shirt–and great story behind it! Those are always the very best kinds of gifts. 🙂

    Oh, and if you need to name a nerdy, quiet, shy female character (you know–the one doomed to an untimely and gory demise?), well… feel free. ;D

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks for your generous offer of self-sacrifice. 😀 I’ve already got someone in mind for the gory demise. Not anyone I actually know, of course. *whistles and looks around innocently*

    • Beq

      Brave woman! I think you should be the shy, quiet one who bops the bad guy in the head with an appropriate weapon, from behind, to save the hero and then looks shocked at her actions. 😀 A much better role for a volunteer. 😀

  • Beq

    Uh oh. Am I in trouble now?


    • nancyholzner

      Don’t worry, Beq. Your secrets are safe with me. (Um, do I know any of your secrets? 😀 )

      • Beq

        Umm…maybe? ROFL I’m not sure what qualifies as a secret. I’m pretty open about myself so I don’t have too many deep dark secrets to share. *giggle*

  • Mary Win Connor

    I use my family in my writing so frequently that they actually fight over who I’m using. For example, I did an article on drama queens without using names and my brother said it was either my sister B or our friend D. My sister M swore it was my sister B. It was actually my niece G.

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