I tend to have a pretty firm visual concept for my main characters. A lot of times I use pictures that I find online or in magazines to help me. I did that with Sage, the character from my Orphan Prince series with Scholastic. Not always though. Elliot, in the Underworld series, was only ever in my head until the illustrator brought him to life.
It doesn’t matter though. Because either way, the visual is so strong I feel like I would actually recognize them if I saw them on the street.
Well, it happened. I saw Sage.
Granted, it probably wasn’t him. I’m willing to concede that based on the fact that he’s a character I made up. And yet, while I was sitting in an airport in Jamaica last week, a kid with a remarkable resemblance to him was at the counter next to me.
He’d had his hair braided for vacation, but a girl with him had some pictures on her iphone of him before he had it braided and it was the right length and style (yes, I admit that I peeked). His eyes were slightly narrower than Sage’s would be, but his smile, height, and build were spot on. His attitude seemed to be a little friendlier than Sage’s, but I told myself that if Sage had spent a week vacationing in Jamaica, he’d probably be a little friendlier too.
In a remarkable twist of fate (or the fact that there aren’t that many flights from Jamaica at any one time), he was on the same flight home (two rows in front of me), so I had ample opportunity to rudely stare. I tried not to be too obvious, but it was just so…strange.
I was seeing someone who could have been a character in my book. And I wished I could have introduced myself, just to explain that despite all evidence to the contrary, I wasn’t a crazy stalker. But somehow, I think the explanation would have made things worse.
He and his family disappeared sometime after customs and I continue to work on furthering Sage’s adventures. But wherever he is, it’s enough for me to know that somewhere in the world, my main character is alive and well.