Julie Arduini is a one of the many wonderful authors I have met through ACFW. I hope you'll enjoy Julie's insight on how fictional and real characters can merge.
A city girl moves to the mountains and produces a lot of change for the local grocer.
What It’s Like to Meet “Real Characters”
Last week I finished a first, hosting a book club featuring my own book, Entrusted. When the women’s ministry at church presented the idea I wasn’t sure about it, but I can tell you on the other side, I loved every moment.
Each week we not only read and discussed the chapters, I gave “behind the scenes” information to the book club members. I shared what I was thinking in certain scenes, or who I based certain characters off from. I even disclosed that one Entrusted character is actually my play on words and a mini sermon for people to leave the past where it belongs.
What seemed most interesting for them was when I talked about my last visit to the real Speculator where Entrusted is based. I called the village Speculator Falls but Speculator is my favorite place to be. I was able to speak at the library in June and share what it took to get Entrusted published. When I was done speaking, people stayed and we got to chat.
While there, I met a man who was once mayor. As he talked about his life it was hard not to think about the town council in Entrusted and the men and women who were part of the council. Suddenly they had faces. The very people in the library, the library I had written about in the book.
When I met the pastor I remember shaking his hand and listening, but there was also a part of me certain I was shaking the pastor’s hand in Entrusted, Pastor Craig Reynolds. In fact, I didn’t want to say the pastor’s name for fear I’d get it wrong and call him by the character’s name. I had never met the real pastor, but when I did, he seemed a perfect fit for Pastor Reynolds. Talk about surreal!
The biggest giggle from the book club was explaining that Entrusted was inspired by a store and my “what if” questions. Charlie Johns is the grocery store in Speculator and in a crazy twist, as I prepared the manuscript for publisher query, the real store had an expansion just like my story did. When I went to visit, the expansion was exactly what I pictured for Entrusted. It was so weird! And during that visit I was able to meet the owner of the store.
In Entrusted, that position of store owner was the hero of the book. I wasn’t thinking of any real person, I was thinking about a conflict and my “what if” questions. What if a man who had experienced loss and change met a woman who embraced change? That’s where Entrusted started. But when the book club asked if Entrusted was on the shelves at Charlie Johns, I admitted they were not and I was too afraid to ask why. I explained, “When I met the owner I told him I was writing a romance based on the store. But when the book was published, I sent him a copy and thanked him for having a store worth writing about. I never heard from him and I’m afraid perhaps he thought I was writing about him and not the store.” I’m scared that he thinks I’m some stalker lady, although the idea for Entrusted goes back to the early 1990’s.
The book club also enjoyed hearing about meeting people at the Speculator library who were afraid I’d put them in Entangled, book 2 in the Adirondack Surrender Romance series. They admitted as they talked that they were afraid I was going to use what they said against them. Or, write a character based on what they just said, or on a gesture they used. I don’t have enough words to share how much I enjoyed meeting these “real characters.”
How about you? Have you visited a place that you read about? Did the characters come alive as you met the people around town?
- See more at: http://juliearduini.com/books/entrusted-adirondack-surrender-1/
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