Antonio Canova's Napoleon is my current inspiration
Long before I sit down to write, I would have had intimate knowledge of my protagonist, but you must understand that this almost always comes from a rudimentary source such as the order of their birth, astrological sign or artistic bend.
My first novel, Ellesmere for instance, was conceived from an ad in GQ of a male model sitting in a leather club chair in a well-lit space.
His hair was raven black and inspired touch, with eyes that could only be described as a charming cloudy amber. He was handsome with very male features: wide brow, strong jaw and chin with a darling cleft at its center. He would have been intimidating had it not been for the dust of freckles on display over his nose.
Upon, closer inspection of the photo, I saw that there were also freckles on his ears and neck, then I wondered how it formed the man he is. I can’t take my eyes off him. I bought the magazine and, for a full month, pestered my loved ones with impossible questions of the man in the ad.
I think he looks melancholy and I want them to agree with me but they aren’t convinced. I tell them he’s Sagittarius because he reminds me of my old boyfriend with his olive skin and plush lips that hint at a smile even when he’s serious.
Soon I’ve decided he’s an only child with a beloved cousin. Then because the faint lines on his face are in the places where worry and laughter show, I make him the head of his brood. He’s looking directly at me and yet he is held from me so I conclude he has lost someone. And that keeps him guarded.
I call him James and make him the Duke of Ellesmere. He lives on Park Lane in a house that speaks well of his English sensibility, easily reflecting a seamless marriage of grandeur and comfort. This, I believe, comes from his ancestor’s innate propensity for restraint which he as inherited to advantage and shows well in his personal carriage.
He is elegant, urbane and intelligent with a sharp wit. He has known his friends from boyhood and the dearest of them I’ve decided must be a stunning redhead who broke his heart when he was ten.
Three months later, I know all there is to know of James and I have the notebook full of notes to prove it. By the time I put fingers to keyboard, James is practically an extension of self, an intimate friend, and I am able to gauge his response in whatever circumstances his story brings us.
All the very best,