Friday, 7 September 2012

Visualising characters

 My Number One fan (Sausage) and I have just spent an interesting week getting her a costume together for the annual Book Week parade at school. Book Week actually happened a few weeks ago in most schools, but our school always puts it off until the week of the local Agricultural Show, so that we have things to display in the schools’ area. Sausage decided that she wanted to go as Zoe out of my book ‘The Dragon Box’. It was her idea – honest! It was only then that I realised that I had never really clearly visualised Zoe, much less described her in the book. Obviously, she carried a bow and some arrows and was about eleven years old, but that was about it. In my head she was dark-haired, but I don’t think I ever said so. It was interesting to see that Sausage had been able to visualise herself in the part. She had a pretty clear picture. I even had to copy the dragon from the front cover and paste it into the recesses on the bow (which probably should have been wooden, but I was two lazy to walk to the stand of bamboo a mile away, to get what we needed).

This is what we came up with. Sorry it's only the hair – I’m still loath to put pictures of my children on here.

I have to admit that I almost didn’t put Zoe into The Dragon Box. After all, I was writing the book for boys. I’m glad I did though. I’m glad I made her tough. But maybe it’s also good that I didn’t describe her too well. Sausage, at least, had the chance to picture her for herself. 

I've never particularly liked books that have people on the cover. I always like to imagine what a character looks like and it rarely matches what the cover designer has used; and though my own main characters tend to be based on well-known people, I would never tell anyone who I had in mind. It’s part of the pleasure of reading, to imagine those things. The fact that I imagined Alan Rickman as Severus Snape long before the movie came out was a bonus, though JK Rowling says she wasn’t describing him. It was fun to see how Sausage saw someone out of my head!

1 comment:

Clare said...

What a fantastic testament to the power of your writing, Katie, that your daughter was able to clearly visualise herself as Zoe.
And what an imaginative and creative mind she has, to be able to see herself thus and then bring Zoe to life.