Billy and Tracy, the inspiration behind the characters

When I wrote Chrome Pink Billy was just Rae Lynne’s bossy older brother.

He’s had a few bit parts in other books, but I never really stopped to think about who he was as a character.

Working on Red Steel, I had to learn more about who Billy Grimes really was. What made him tick. Why did he act and react they way that he did? Somethings were obvious as they tied in with Rae Lynne’s story, especially their mother leaving when they were so young. What else would affect him, carve him into the person he is?

My youngest son, Blake is a volunteer firefighter. A few months ago, knowing I was going to be working on Red Steel, I asked him about giving a workshop for my writer’s group on being a firefighter and first responder. As he spoke, I got a clearer picture of my character Billy Grimes and he became my muse for Billy.

I often use my friends and family to help me better understand my characters. One of the fun things about writing is taking a little bit from people you know and throwing all those bits and pieces into a blender on high and add in a stray thought or idea and wham, you have a character. I tease Blake about being the muse for Billy, I think he’s okay with the idea but then, he’s not read the book (insert evil laugh).

There is a lot about Billy Grimes that fits my son, but he is still a fictional character. There are other times that one of my other sons or one of their friends gives me an idea for the character. While Blake is definitely the body type for Billy Grimes…okay y’all, no drooling over my baby son, he’s married and she’s crazy, just ask her, she’ll tell you…there are things about my son I don’t want to know and things I can’t know because he probably doesn’t know them about himself. That is one of the powers of fiction, being able to know your character’s thoughts, desires and deepest fears. So, while Blake may have inspired Billy Grimes, please do not confuse the character with the real-life person. As his wife will tell you, Blake is no gourmet cook and while he may be great at taking care of his family, the one who is always trying to feed everyone is his wife Katelynn.

Katelynn asked me if she was in any of my books. It’s funny, I didn’t make a conscious choice to fashion Tracy Harrell after Blake’s wife but after she asked me, I thought about the character and realized without even trying, Billy’s love interest was a lot like my daughter-in-law. She’s tough, beautiful with that Katherine Hepburn girl next door quality, and she’ll go toe-to-toe with Billy, law enforcement, her boss and her family. She is a no non-sense woman, a reporter, which is really close to what Katelynn does since she is an awesome photographer (check out her website at http:katelynnhollisterphotography.com/ ). Tracy is a modern woman who has had to work hard and fight to get where she is. She doesn’t back down. So, yes Katelynn, you really are in my book.

Billy is a bit of a lady’s man, all the women old and young seem to have a crush on him except Tracy and his friend Brenda, the paramedic whom they teasingly call Blade. While Tracy is attracted to Billy, she isn’t going to give him a chance. If he wants her, he’ll have to work for it. Blade is in love with her husband while she thinks Billy is a charmer, she doesn’t pay his flirting any mind. Billy likes them more because they are immuned to his charms.

So there you have it, my inspiration behind my characters for Red Steel.

A special Thank you to Hello Honey Photography for allowing me to use the photos of Blake and Katelynn for this blog. https://www.facebook.com/hellohoneyphotography/

One thought on “Billy and Tracy, the inspiration behind the characters

  1. Hi Sherri,
    You reminded me to look closer to home when forming characters. I’ve been writing this “novel” off and on since Nano and I realize now that my characters have no character. Hmmm. Now I’m going to go back and definitely add a bit of my girl into the protagonist. Tell Katelynn that she does a beautiful job.

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