Characters Just Pop Into My Head

Every author’s process is different. Let me share how I developed one character from my Nocturne Falls Universe falcon-shifter series. I started with a semi-structured idea of the story and where it will go. But the writing process took off when like a film director,  I visualized the first scene.

In the first book in the series, THE FALCON FINDS HIS MATE, scene one takes place on the wrap-around porch of a two-story Pepto-Bismol pink Victorian house. Way before I wrote the first sentences, I had a firm idea of what the place looked like based on a collection of pictures I added to a Pinterest album. For me, it’s critical to over collect photos of places, people, and things even if only a few details make it into the book. By the way, the house is an important character, too.

If you’ve read my Nocturne Falls falcon stories, does this look familiar?

It’s the Carpe Diem

Once I had the house, I started asking questions. Who lives here? Why here? What sets this place apart from others? I decided the house belongs to Echo Stargazer (a made up name). Since Nocturne Falls is an extraordinary town, it needs an extraordinary person. I did an Internet casting call and decided who else could play Echo but…

Iris Apfel

How did little gravely-voiced Echo come to live in a house like this? Magical people are drawn to Nocturne Falls. That’s when the fun begins and I can make up ‘stuff’!

Echo’s ancestry dates back to Colonial America. Her great-great-greats were persecuted for their psychic gifts, escaped and migrated to the Carolinas. There gifts passed through the generations. Echo is a clairsentient who blocks the noise when she has to by wearing a special bracelet. With it off, she reads minds.

Widowed years ago, Echo came to Nocturne Falls to raise her son and daughter. To earn a living, she converted the first floor of this house to a gift and tchotchke shop she called the Carpe Diem. Town tourists love what she sells in the front of the store. In the back and with complete privacy, locals can purchase supplies for spells, cleansings, charms, rituals, and the like.

Upstairs is the living quarters where Echo supplements her income by giving readings with her special cards. The cards aren’t Tarot or Oracle. They are black as onyx, and only the client sees the images on them.

This photo is of Iris Apfel’s apartment in NYC. It inspired Echo’s dining room-card reading area.  In the story, Echo’s house was crammed with her preciously-pink chintzy décor. Just like Iris’s place.

And doesn’t this look like Echo’s kitchen?

Finally, there’s Crealde, Echo’s nineteen-pound bundle of contentment. Never! Either he’s “hangry” or he’s not around. Curious, nosy, demanding, vociferous, and a howl that can wake the dead. But loveable and cuddly, only on his terms.

Once I have the location and characters, I create a story bible with facts, fables and details. It also has timelines, peripheral characters, places and events. The bible is ongoing, especially in a series. Echo has a role in each of my Nocturne Falls stories. It’s easy to forget details. If I do mess up, my dear readers will let me know!

When that’s all done, I’m on to the plot, character arcs, and the juicy stuff! That’s best left for another discussion. Hope it gave you a small insight into

Visit my Pinterest site for more of what inspired me.  https://www.pinterest.com/fortheluv2write/

 

Image attributions:

Director’s Chair  http://worldartsme.com/director-clipart.html#gal_post_23000_director-clipart-1.jpg
Victorian Home http://favim.com/image/95589/
Iris Apfel https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/magazine/iris-apfel-doesnt-do-normcore.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r
Dining Room Table https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/iris-apfel-manhattan-apartment-slideshow#4
Pink Kitchen http://inspirationsdeco.blogspot.com/2011/07/inspirations-deco-cuisines-retro-n8.html
Crealde https://www.deviantart.com/mndcntrl/art/Did-you-see-that-196886659

Though they be little, they be fierce!

(title apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

Ryan Ford is the hero in my Nocturne Falls Universe paranormal novella, “The Falcon Finds His Mate. Oh. I should mention Ryan is a shape-shifting Peregrine falcon–one of the fastest birds on Earth.

Though the shape-shifters in my story are imaginary, falcons are real!

I’ve fallen in love with these creatures. Until I researched falcons for this story, I had no idea there were different members of this family.

In one scene, Ryan–in human form, is a contestant in a charity benefit for the local animal sanctuary and models with a North American Kestrel Falcon on his gloved hand.

Ryan chose the small and mighty Kestrel, because anything larger might frighten the unsuspecting humans in the audience. (Hey, it’s fiction–remember?)

Sometimes called a sparrow hawk, the adult Kestrel weighs between 5-6 ounces; the approximate size of a mourning dove or a robin. The female is slightly larger than the male.

Though their larger cousins like Ryan (the Peregrine Falcon shifter) are faster, these little ‘race cars of the sky’ hold their own. Long wings and tail allow them to maneuver and kite in the air, and fly at speeds of up to thirty-nine miles per hour.

This photo is an adult female. Note her rust-colored wings and back. Her tale bands are narrower than the male. Those distinctive ‘sideburns’ and ‘mustache’ are found in both the female and male. If you look closely at the nape of her neck, you’ll see two dark patches that resemble eyes. These are thought to be deterrents to a predator approaching from behind. These faux eyes appear on both the male and female. (Photo courtesy Chris Mayne)

Speaking of sight, the Kestrel has incredible vision. They see in the UV light range so they can track prey at night, though they do most of their hunting during the day. Their coloration is camouflage for their own survival and for confusing their prey. (Photo courtesy D. Allen Martin)

 

 

The adult male has slate-blue on the head and wings, but when perched, a black-spotted rusty mantle and scapulars predominate.

 

Depending on the gender, the adult wingspan can be up to 24 inches.  The photo to the right is a male. Note the large dark band at the tip of his tale feathers.

 

 

 

Though they can spot prey from a perch, Kestrels prefer to hunt by hovering over the ground then swooping down when they see a tasty target, moving so fast their prey doesn’t see them coming.

Ready for your quiz?

Male or Female?

#1
#2
#3

#1 = Female             #2  =  Female            #3  = Male

(The above six photos courtesy Gerald Friesen)

The Kestrel’s yummy gourmet menu includes lizards, insects, snakes, rodents and small birds.

And eat like a bird? I wish! Kestrels eat up to 21% of their body weight each day. If I did that I’d have to consume…well, you don’t need to know everything!

They store food they don’t need in crevices in trees, utility pole boxes, rocks; wherever they can.  Never know when you’ll need a quick bite when you’re out and about.

The bad news? The predator is also prey for larger hawks, crows, dogs and cats. The good news? This keeps the Kestrel on guard and alert. (Photo courtesy Linda Simmons)

Even though it’s small, the Kestrel is used in sport falconry, sometimes as the beginner bird. If captive for sport, the falconer must be mindful of the Kestrel’s weight as even a small weight loss (we’re talking ounces!) could be fatal.

 

During courting, the pair often gifts each other with food. The Kestrel mates for life and often returns to the same nesting site year after year.

 

 

By the way, the male chooses the nesting site, but the female has the final word before they move in. Umm…that sounds familiar, yes? (These two photos courtesy Chris Mayne)

Finally, all of us have a bad feather day now and again. But not everyone looks as darn cute as a Kestrel!!   (Photo courtesy Gerald Friesen)

Hope you enjoyed this mini-lesson and that I’ve piqued your interest in reading “The Falcon Finds His Mate.”

One more “shout out” to these awesome photographers for permission to use their photos:

Gerald Friesen

Linda Simmons (Thanks to Chris, too!)

Chris Mayne

D. Allen Martin

My references if you’d like to know more:

https://www.beautyofbirds.com/americankestrels.html

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Kestrel/id

http://kestrelfalconry.com/aboutkestrels.html

http://www.sky-hunters.org/American%20Kestrel1-06.pdf