Would you believe I picked up a Swedish backpacker the other day? Okay, all you romance and crime lovers, stop the drooling and getting suspicious. She (yes, she) was a lovely young woman who hadn’t seen anything of Bundaberg and was going to be working at least 6 days a week for the next four months so I gave her a tour of all the wonderful beaches here. From Mon Repos where the turtles come to lay their eggs (it’s the season now) to Bargara and Innes Park. Didn’t get as far as Elliott Heads but made it to our only hill, The Sloping Hummock, for an all-over view of the countryside. At 20 she has come alone to Oz on a working holiday. And if you’re thinking of her as a tall, striking blonde with blue eyes, reverse that. She was even as short as I am! And we took the same shoe size. I found that out when she asked me where she could buy some sneakers. People with tiny feet aren’t always catered for well in the footwear area.
It got me thinking about our preconceptions of what we expect people of other nationalities look like and how they behave. When I wrote Fatal Flaw, I created a character who is part Asian, part English, with diverse nationalities grandparents. I had never encountered anyone with that background so picked the brains of a friend who had lived in Malaysia for some years. What she told me offered a whole new twist to the plot that I hadn’t anticipated but worked exceptionally well. Readers have to believe that characters’ actions ring true, and getting that kind of insight from my friend allowed me to give him plausible motivations. I love creating complex characters, and Fatal Flaw has its fair share of them.
I often wonder how readers feel about characters in the books they read. Anyone willing to share their thoughts?