Visualising Characters #HBTC #amwriting

Wherever you look, my online profile will tell you: author, publisher, social scientist. I was twenty-eight, with two small children, before I graduated with a first-class degree in applied social sciences, and I'm bloody proud of it. I messed up school, lost faith in myself, started to believe I was stupid when I
wanted to be clever. I wanted to join Mensa, have letters after my name, but all I ever seemed to get was 'U's and 'F's -

U must F***ing try harder...

My degree finally convinced me that I am clever. I know stuff, I can think about stuff on a higher level, and I'm OK at teaching that stuff to others. It also made me realise that the way I interact with the world is possibly unique, certainly unusual. I don't see physical characteristics, but in case there's any doubt, I don't see auras either. I see psychological
characteristics - personalities, beliefs, emotions, judgements. I see the person within.

It wasn't my degree that bestowed the ability upon me; I've always been that way. Whilst I had my boisterous moments as a child, I was generally quiet, shy and observant. I grew up in a house where the idiom 'children should be seen and not heard' was the set ideal. Without going into detail, my childhood and adolescence was not filled with innocent, warm days of sunshine and eternal summer holidays. It was oppressive, but it was also when I learned to interpret silence.

The silence happens between the words, within the actions, the unconscious presence of the person hiding behind social props of clothes, hairstyles, make-up, gangs, cigarettes, alcohol. The silence is the person; the rest of it is add-ons.

That shyness and introversion followed me everywhere - school, church, youth club, concert band, marching band - and still persists in my professional life as an educator. It's made worse by how quickly I analyse, think and spin up countless things to say, but how slow I am to sift through them and pick the right one. Back in school, I chose mostly to say nothing, although the quiet ones are considered dangerous, so I learned to answer quickly, only to mentally return to the situation over and over again, later realising, with some regret, what I should have said.

My first Daz3D characterisation
Thus, when it comes to my writing, I know - because it's been pointed out by quite a few readers and reviewers - that my stories tend towards the exploration of human psychology. My characters, unless I try really hard (i.e. because I have to describe their physical attributes for the reader), I don't 'see' them from the outside, only the inside.

At some point - 2008-ish, I think - I decided (for fun) to make a trailer for Hiding Behind The Couch, and in the process, I downloaded Daz3D with the intention on making a short animation. It was a tiny bit ambitious, but I did, in the process, produce character representations for The Circle - the nine friends at the centre of the series.

From those, I've been able to develop a very clear visual representation of what the characters look like in 'real life' (which may prove to be a bit of stumbling block when it comes to casting the TV day). It also makes including models on book covers a tricky endeavour.

Even though there are nine main characters (or more at times), Josh and Shaunna are the most prominent characters in the series. Josh is the semi-omniscient narrator (he only thinks he knows everything), while Shaunna is 'the hub' that holds their friendship group together.

Here - for fun - are my Daz3D representations, along with book covers featuring Josh and Shaunna, and a couple of images that may find their way onto future book covers. Who knows?

Daz3D - Josh and Sean

Ruminations - young Sean and Josh

Chain of Secrets - Josh and George

Red Hot Christmas - Shaunna

Daz3D - Shaunna and Andy

I'd love to hear what readers think - is this how you see these characters?
And authors - how do you visualise your characters (if at all)?

Thanks for reading,


  1. Well, you picked my very favorite cover (Ruminiations). I love everything about it, LOL. But the version of Josh on the cover of Chain of Secrets...I kind of just want to stare at him all day. That's a valid use of my time, right? I'm sure I could use it for...research. Yes, that's it. Research of...something.

    Everything else...yes. So much of this. I wasn't so quiet as a child, but I think I'd learned to be loud in order not to be ignored, since everything around me was constantly loud all the time. Shy, though...yes. Still am, or maybe "awkward" describes me better. And funny how things conspire to make us feel like we're not smart. :(

    1. Thank you. It's my favourite, too! I think that's valid research, yes. *nods* :D

      I'm not shy anymore, but social situations are...awkward, and if I stay quiet, people assume I'm analysing. Which I am.


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