Linda’s Casting Couch, Part I (or, How Those Voices End Up In My Head)

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Where the magic happens (excuse the mess)

Okay, I know the title sounds icky, but just wash that dirty mind of yours out with soap because the story is that I usually cast the characters in my books while I’m sitting on the living room couch with my laptop. Our super-comfortable leather recliner couch (left) is usually where I do my writing these days (and a big reason why my butt’s so big—it’s so comfortable I hate to get up).

But I digress (as usual). Back to my character “casting” process…I need to hear the characters’ voices and see their appearances in my head when I start to write. The easiest way to do that is to “cast” each character, so I can channel them as I’m writing. So what I do is start looking for actors and actresses who are the same ages as my characters by flipping through, Google images, and YouTube videos until the right person clicks in my head.

Then I create what I call my storyboard, with photos of the actors and actresses I’ve chosen. Yes, technically, it’s not a storyboard, because that has…y’know, a story, but this is my process so suck it up, nitpickers. I label each photo with the character’s name, and add a few scrapbooking embellishments to go with the theme of the story. It doesn’t take all that long, and it’s a lot of fun.

As an example, I thought I’d show you who I “cast” as my characters in Always, the book I recently completed:

The Always Storyboard

A little background on the book first:

Always is the story of a young police wife, Rendie Miller Nielsen, who loses her husband of two years, Jake, when he’s killed in the line of duty. Not surprisingly she has a tough time coping; she withdraws from friends, family, and her life, trying to deal with her grief the way she’s always dealt with everything before she met Jake: alone. Eventually, though, she finds her way back to Jake’s family (the only real family she’s ever known) and they help her return to a “normal” life (well, as normal as life can be when you’re a thirty-two-year-old widow).

When she finally emerges from her grieving period and is ready to date again, Rendie has a fling with a hot detective friend that ends badly. Then she accidentally discovers that her brother-in-law and best buddy Mike, an NYPD detective who was her rock after Jake’s death, has been in love with her from the moment they met. While she grapples with that knowledge, with her own feelings for Mike, and with her inability to deal with the fact that Jake’s truly gone, Mike’s guilt over loving his brother’s wife drives him back into the arms of his former fiancée Amy in an effort to forget Rendie for good.

Will Mike’s guilt, and Rendie’s reluctance to let go of the past, keep them from finding happiness together? Have you ever watched a Hallmark Channel romantic movie? Then you probably already know the answer. Hey, this is a beach read, folks, not great literature.

In the next post, I’ll identify the Who’s Who of Always-ville (aka NYC – Morningside Heights, Manhattan and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), tell you who I’ve cast, and give you a little more information about each character.