Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Fictional Characters

When you fall in love with a fictional character, they become your friend. I have been thinking about this since my character Brea in California Girl Chronicles now gets talked about like she's a real person. I had a "fan" start to argue with me about her the other day. I actually dropped the argument. It was silly. She's not an actual person, and I know what motivates her better than anyone else. When readers are this invested in a character then the author has done his or her job and created a well-developed character people love to love. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite fictional characters both on screen and on paper and why.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie) -- you're perhaps puzzled about a choice from juvenile fiction. Laura was, of course, a real person but her prairie stories were mostly fictional accounts of her young life on the Great Plains as a pioneer girl. I fell in love with her when I was 10 years old. I read and re-read her adventures at least 10 times each. She was my generation's Harry Potter (for me). Laura was spunky and experienced angst like all little girls. She loved her family, and when she fell in love with her husband, I fell in love too. Her work was a reflection of an old-fashioned spirit and time. As a young girl, I loved the Ingalls family and Laura. I craved more, and when I was old enough I read her real autobiography. I came to understand her life as a real person, and I loved it too. In fact, it was the real Laura who inspired me to become a writer. And here I am now with my own book series with my own character who is much, much different but certainly a reflection of an updated outspoken and contemporary female character that my readers do love to love.

Eric Northman -- I know here we go from innocence to anything but with our 1,000-year-old vampire. Eric in True Blood is similar to the book Eric in many ways. As a fan of the show, it's hard not to read Eric in the books the same way he is played by Alexander Skarsgard. It's almost a chicken-before-the-egg characterization for me. I didn't read the books until I watched True Blood. So I almost naturally inserted the actor's voice into the books. What do I like about Eric in both the books and series? He's smart, complicated, guarded (most of the time), fiercely loyal, and sexy. He was characterized as a villain in the first season of the show, but I don't see him that way at all. He's a vampire, and excuse the banality, vampire is as vampire does. His love for Pam, Sookie and his maker Godric (in the show version) not the books endeared him to me. I have to be honest. I only read the Eric/Sookie stories in the books. I do prefer the TV series for the rest of the storytelling. Although I read almost all of the last book Dead Reckoning, but only because I was on a cruise ship with nothing else to read. I'm not going to knock Harris' books -- I respect all authors who create a best-selling series and obviously she appeals to a broad audience.

Isak Dinesen -- she is the author of Out of Africa. Now my love of this character is complicated. I didn't fall in love with her reading Out of Africa. I fell in love with her in the film, and then I read the real Out of Africa, which is nothing like the film. She's not a cookie-cutter person you love to love. Her book Out of Africa was like reading an homage to the continent. It was a pleasant diversion, but I love her because she lived some a rich, complicated life. Again, the movie doesn't truly reflect that life accurately not according to her biography. The love affair with Robert Redford's character was dramatically changed in many ways. From her biography, I got the impression he wasn't necessarily the love of her life the way the film depicted it. She had a big life -- and for a woman of her time that was trailblazing and interesting.

Sergeant Brad Colbert from Generation Kill -- I know he's a real person. I just have to say, the book and the mini series depiction (because they're very closely mirrored in dialog) revealed a quiet but sharp man with impeccable calm in the midst of chaos. He says some of the best lines in both the book and the series since they're aligned. I love the "Iceman" for his wit, and how he constantly tells babbling brook on Rip Fuel Ray Person to "shut the fuck up". I think he says "shut up Ray" at least a hundred times. Other classic one-liners, "Turn and we're money." I know these could be construed as trite, but you have to love lines like, "It's an affront to my warrior spirit."

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