What do they look like?
It’s a basic question. What do your characters look like? You describe them often enough, but as the uproar that erupted when an actress of colour was cast to play Hermione indicates, the character appearance you describe and the appearance your reader has in mind may be very different things. As J K Rowling stated, the ‘Hermione description’ is intelligent, frizzy hair, big teeth.
The truth is, unless you happen to be both author and portrait artist (I know I wish I was), you may have described the main physical traits of your main characters many times, in many different ways – but still not really have a clear image in your head. Even if you have a photographic picture of each character clear in your mind’s eye, there’s no guarantee (and nor should there be) that what your reader ‘sees’ is the same.
This being the case, i frequently play a game with myself, when I watch a new movie or TV show – could any of the characters / actors play in a movie of my books? Every so often I get hits, and I thought I’d share a few here, as examples of how I see some of my characters.
First of all – Khyria Ilan. Basic description: tall, black hair, green eyes, more than a bit of a hard-ass.
Khyria is the protagonist for the Cortii series, and I’ve been hunting for some time for a picture I could point to and say ‘Yup. Like that, there.’
Khyria is a Cortiian mercenary, genetically altered human, and when we first meet her in Through the Hostage, she’s almost totally estranged from her command, Wildcat Cortia, which is still in training. Her reputation on Corina is infamous and widely discussed, but very little is actually known about her. Part of that, as we’re going to find out, is because the Councils, the commanders of the Cortii, placed a block on her memories, and given the atrocities the Councils commit openly, the reason why they may have blocked those memories worries her. Khyria has influential allies and enemies, and she trusts no-one completely, including – or perhaps especially – herself, but she’s survived the attentions of the worst her society has to offer and she’s still standing, and in the Cortii, that says everything.
I was indecently excited recently when I came across the new NBC series, Blindspot. The main actress, Jaimie Alexander, is the closest I’ve come to a physical match for Khyria. Definitely a go-to if I ever get to cast the Cortii series for the big screen. Her character in the show, not so much, but appearance-wise, definitely.
She’d need green contact lenses, to put on a lot of muscle, and to grow her hair out to a Cortiian length, but basically – 90% match.
Second – Senja Ventiva. Basic description: tall, dark reddish hair, amber eyes, bad attitude.
Senja is the commander of a Cortia unit a few years senior to Wildcat, and by and large she’s Khyria’s ongoing nemesis. She’s a very active player in the Cortiian political scene, and an influential information broker. A precognitive, she had a vision of the future that convinced that Khyria was going to play a pivotal role, and she’s tried every method since then to bring Khyria completely under her control.
The Maze (Mazikeen) character, from the Fox series Lucifer, pretty much matches Senja for me, at least in the first few episodes. Appearance 80% match, show character about 80% match as well. She’s played by Lesley-Ann Brandt, and I was more than a bit excited to find her, too.
Third – Nasra Meili. Basic description: low end of minimum height, red hair, troublemaker-in-chief of Wildcat Cortia.
Nasra enjoys stirring the pot to see what surfaces. Like most of Wildcat, she’s openly in the market for any facts of the whispered details about her commander’s past life, and she’s not particularly burdened with scruples. She generally projects the image of a party girl, prefers it when people underestimate her, and will happily take advantage of it when they do.