In creating the story and characters for my novel “Listen To My Heart – An Adult Fairy Tale,” I used the British authoring program Scrivener, which has tools for creating characters, background, and motivation. You can easily include photographs for descriptive purposes.
For the princess, I chose the name, Tamzin Crane. The name Tamzin comes from the British actress Tamzin Outhwaite who I watched in the British program EastEnders when I visited Wales every year. In describing the appearance of the character Tamzin, I remembered a woman I had a huge crush on decades ago; she had long red hair and a very beautiful face. My crush never went anywhere, for I was newly-divorced and probably awful as a companion, but I never forgot how beautiful she was. Not having a picture of her, I searched Pinterest and came up with this photograph.
I described Tamzin as 28 years old, 5′ 8″ tall (173 cm), with an athletic body since she runs a mile and a half (2.4 km) every day. Her curse is that she’s home-bound; cursed to return home every four hours for her medicine. She’s essentially alone with just her girlfriend Renny next door, trying to run a web design business. She avoids men because that’s what her late parents taught her to do. She’s fabulously wealthy but chooses not spend it on herself. Her last name, Crane, I found by looking at a Google list of American surnames.
For the prince, I thought of the Hallmark Christmas movie “The Christmas Card” where a career soldier travels to a northern California town in search of the kind woman who sent the troops a warm and thoughtful Christmas card. So I decided the prince had to be a war hero who is nationally known and respected but has decided to drop out of public view and work as a maintenance man. He has a curse too, random panic attacks due to PTSD from his war experience. He avoids woman companions, afraid that they might witness one of his panic attacks. Once again, I searched Pinterest and came up with this photograph.
OK, I learned later that this is the Irish actor Jamie Dornan, known for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movies. The name Mitch comes from a character in the “Another World” TV soap opera which my ex-wife and I taped every day and watched later that night. The last name Franklin was from the Revolutionary War political leader Ben Franklin (see the Benjamin Franklin quotation from the top of my blog).
I described Mitch as 32 years old, 6′ 2″ tall (188 cm). Still strong and powerful after his Army Ranger career, he is kind and respectful, loyal to a fault. He and Tanzin live down the street from each other but have never met. Mitch fixes her plumbing in the first chapter and a nearby explosion triggers him into a panic attack right in front of her. Her response to help him is surprising, but the love story is off to the races after that.
I placed these characters on Carlton Avenue in the Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn, New York. This street is full of buildings called brownstones, now made into apartment buildings. In the picture of this street, notice how each brownstone has ten steps to the first floor, an artifact of the horse-and-buggy era where the elevated first floor was above the smell of horse manure.
I wanted a professionally-designed cover, so I turned to Ana Grigoriu in Stuttgart, Germany, who runs a book cover design business www.books-design.com. Giving her the information above and a synopsis of my story, she designed this rather perfect cover, showing my characters on the steps of Tamzin’s brownstone. Note the twelve steps, the autumn leaves, and other elements of the love story. Ana is a consummate professional and worth every penny I paid her. Here is her graphic design of the characters in my novel.
So there you have it, the creative process. You draw from your life experience, books, movies, and television shows you liked, add in a large helping of creativity and imagination, and then go write a book. I plan to do this again.