My good friend and amazing writer, Terri Reid, once told me that when she writes a Mary O' Reilly story, she keeps two pictures close-by, each of which represents how she sees her characters Mary O' Reilly and Bradley Alden in her own mind.
I used to think I was nuts for clipping out a picture of an Avon model (I kid you not) that struck me as Michael Penfield as soon as I saw him. Truly. I was going through an Avon catalog and ran into this amazingly nice-looking young man who took my breath away because my brain started screaming "It's Michael Penfield!!!!!!" I tore the picture out of the catalog and stored it away in one of my writing folders, to be taken out and looked at for inspiration, or to show someone else what Michael looks like in my mind. Since that time, I have collected three or four more copies of the same picture and I am thrilled by that. The more Michael, the better!
And thank you Terri Reid for showing me that I'm not the only one who does this!
HOWEVER, I have no such model for Cassie Valentine. All I know about her is that she is on the shorter side, has long dark hair with a bit of a wave to it, has brown eyes, and she might look a bit like a gypsy. And I don't know anyone, nor have I ever seen anyone, who looks like that. EVER.
And it's not like I'm not looking. I'm always looking. I constantly assess assorted actors and models, including the ones who are not known by name but have been photographed in ads for anything from mascara to tampons. Seriously. Cassie is still out there in the ether, coming to me in fits and starts but never all at once, like her amazingly gorgeous boyfriend. (Incidentally, the model for Michael doesn't have a scar but that's no problem whatsoever. Trust me.)
I know what Nick looks like. I know exactly what Steve looks like. I have a pretty good idea for Eloise. But Cassie, my main protagonist, remains in silhouette form, which is pretty weird. She's probably the main character in the Bridgeton Park Cemetery Series and somehow remains, well, faceless.
Believe me, I look for my characters incessantly. While I was writing my one and only sword-and-sorcery fantasy (and everyone should be grateful I only tried to write one) I ran into one of my characters at a bar. Well, I didn't run into him. I caught a glimpse of him across the bar while he was taking a break from playing darts and ordering a beer. And like seeing Michael in an Avon catalogue, it made me catch my breath for just a moment. It's a little mind-boggling to see someone you've only pictured in your own head walking around in reality. Jarring, mind-boggling, but at the same time, very nice.
So here's the thing: if any of you have an idea what Cassie actually looks like and can suggest the name of a famous person, or somehow send me a pic to the email at my website, let me know. I'd be curious to see how all of you picture her! (So is Michael...)