C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

April 2014

Before there were teleprompters...

I just saw the link to this Facebook video on HuffPo. It shows Fred Astaire introducing Marilyn Monroe
to present an Oscar. It’s from 1951, when the Oscars were a radio-only broadcast, and there was no need for a teleprompterwhich was only in its infancy at the time.

The stars were “dressed to the nines.” And Marilyn Monroe was able to glide across the stage in whatever shoes she had on, unlike many actresses today, who mince along carefully on too-high heels.

Ahhh ... Hollywood glamour.

The Character of Characters

Chronicles: The Library of Illumination
has a great pair of protagonists whose personalities complement each other—like bacon and eggs... gin and tonic... milk and cookies... Actually they’re teens, so scratch the gin and tonic.

Jackson and Johanna thumbnail

It’s a wonder I can write about them (or any of the other characters who populate my books) at all, because I have a horrible memory. So I need ways to remember each individual—or they’ll blend into one another. As a result, many of my characters are based on actors or historical figures—people whose appearance embodies the character I’m creating—and whose image I can conjure at a moment’s notice to get the details right. Once I know what they look like, I put some thought into their names. I often research both first and surnames for a particular region or ethnicity and look up their meanings, so the name reflects the character. And in my historical books, I’ll study clothing for the period and dress my characters accordingly.

That process worked really well for my first two novels, however,
Chronicles: The Library of Illumination took a 180 degree turn. Johanna Charette and Jackson Roth came out of nowhere. Johanna arrived first as the sole protagonist in the original Library of Illumination novelette, and her characteristics and background developed out of thin air. When I started that story, it wasn’t with a particular genre in mind, nor with the intention of turning it into series. I only intended to write a short story. I though I’d end up with a little cozy mystery. Instead, I created a library that came to life along with its enchanted books, and I couldn’t leave it alone.

I began the sequel,
Doubloons, knowing I needed a male to counterbalance Johanna’s character. He developed on the page rather than in my mind. The more I wrote, the more solid he became. I actually think he’s a better character than Johanna because you get to meet his family and his friends in the book and they all add dimension to his character. Johanna gave birth to the series, but because she never knew her parents and was brought up in an institution she happily left behind, her background is not as deep. We know she’s devoted and smart and steadfast, and we learn in Casanova that she can come across as sexy, as well. But we won’t really know her until the novelettes making up the Second Chronicles of Illuminations are released. There’s going to be a lot going on—and I’ve set up a few story lines that will give Johanna layers upon layers.

Finally, each character needs its own voice. They have to sound different when they speak. They have to have their own special phrases or nuances, and that’s usually based on their personalities. So think about your characters—their personalities—their backgrounds—their ethnicities—and give each one a unique voice with their own speech patterns, quirks, and vocabularies to help illustrate who they are.


After seeing another comic by Grant Snider, I checked out his website and loved what I found. This is just one of them. I thought I’d share it because I firmly believe in muses.

Me and the Muses