Characters in the Wild

I have a lot of characters living in my head. Men, women, demons, angels, fairies and werewolves, dragons and horse maidens. Many exist in their own finite worlds of floating cities and underground realms, but a few live and breathe right on average old Earth.

There’s one character in particular that I was fond of back in 2009, when I was still in undergrad. His name was Andrew (though he preferred Andy), and he was a stage producer for musicals (and also a failed scriptwriter). He loved color and sass and spoke with all that somewhat stereotyped tone of a homosexual from San Francisco. He never made it into any polished work, but in the drafts he flitted through, he brought a ton of humor and a glitter glue gun.

That summer, I met him in real life. Sometimes, authors base characters off of people they have known or observed in their day-to-day lives. I based my entire short story Memories off of a middle-aged woman I saw on a train one day wearing three rings on her left ring finger. In Andy’s case, I ‘met’ him afterwards, in a restaurant near campus.

I’d taken N J out for a late brunch. There was this corner space near University Avenue that cycled through restaurants like a model changes shoes. One month, it was Ethiopian food, the next, a diner (Saturn Cafe), and not long after this event, it became an Azerbaijan restaurant. While it was still Saturn Cafe, N J and I visited for french fries and thick hollandaise sauce on their signature Heavenly Benedict.

The moment our server opened his mouth, N J and I couldn’t help but grin at each other. This guy was Andy. The flick of his head before he spoke, the intonations and sassiness––our server was exactly like how I pictured Andy (except he had black hair, and Andrew was a blonde.)

The Summer Before Japan (2010)-127

Historical proof. Me, the menu at Saturn Cafe, and the server photobombing.

I’m sure our poor server was wondering why we were giggling like idiots during the whole meal, but I couldn’t help it. It felt so cool to have ‘spotted’ a character in the wild.

And here is where I clickbait the lot of you.

You’ll never believe what happened next!

At the end of dinner, the server came back and handed us our bill. The server’s name?

The Summer Before Japan (2010)-131

ANDY.

Of course, I should mention here that of course Saturn Cafe Andy is is no way MY Andy. He’s his own person. I just found the whole coincidence of it all, that particular summer, to be too much. 🙂 Saturn Cafe Andy, if you ever read this, you gave us awesome service.

38 thoughts on “Characters in the Wild

    • Alex Hurst says:

      It was amusing for us, for sure. It was kind of a bizarre day in general, though. @njmagas also saw one of her own characters, too, when we were heading home. People watching is fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anabel Marsh says:

    So funny! I love the mischief of the photo. Also your description of the restaurant corner – we have one like that too which has been many things over the years. Are corners unattractive? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I think that particular corner was doomed from the start. There was a large building construction going on on the opposite side of the street, and this corner was one of those “whip around it as fast as you can to merge onto another busy street” type corners. The whole corner probably should have been business offices and not restaurants, but oh well…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      That just means your characters are mostly out of this reality, right? 🙂 Not surprising, since you write about angels and the like.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I can only wonder… though I’m not sure how many of my characters would want to “meet” me so much as “murder” me for everything I put them through, haha… I recall Stranger than Fiction whenever I have the thought. I’m a very mean creator, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      It’s too bad the restaurant is closed now! It was so good!! Did you end up making yourself an omelette? 🙂 And if it was meant to happen, I think maybe Andy was assuaging my fears he was too “stereotypical,” cause that guy spoke exactly like him. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kassie Finley says:

    That’s funny and I imagine when you saw his name it was a choke on your water kind of moment. I have met one of my characters in person. But he didn’t share the same name, that would have been too perfect. Maybe one of these days. It’s bound to happen, as I have so many characters living in my head. Enough to populate a city I’m sure. I’m happy you got to experience that though, it makes characters even more real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Oh definitely. Especially with that face he drew on the receipt. 😛 We were like “Do we tell him? Would he think we’re weird?” In the end, we decided that “yes,” that was overly weird and just gave a hefty tip and left, haha.

      Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I kinda hope he doesn’t! I’d be worried he’d be upset with me, haha. But it was a fun experience all the same. 🙂

      Like

  3. Betty Shreffler says:

    Great post, because it made me think of how I create a character and their physical traits in my mind, then I have to search online until I find a picture of someone who matches my characters’ physical features. From there I can continue building my character in the story.

    I recently had a reader ask for visuals of my characters to help her picture them as she read my book, so I posted the photos I had for all readers to be able to do the same thing. The readers loved it and one of the readers recognized a person in the photo. They said the person in real life was just as nice and charismatic as the character was. It was a cool experience for me and the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      That’s a really cool experience! I know that for some authors, especially in the romance circuit, people know the models by name (and which covers they are on, which is crazy to me, but then again, while I was in Japan and had the opportunity to take pictures of some apprentice geisha, people on Flickr could also name THEM by name). Where do you go to look for pictures? Because I am a fantasy author, I tend to turn to DeviantArt, unless I draw them myself. 🙂

      Like

  4. E. E. Rawls says:

    I love it when things like this happen! Me and my cousin were wandering through St. Louis Art museum, and one of the guards (whatever you call them) looked exactly like one of my cousin’s characters! We were giggling, and I kept trying to follow him and snap a photo without looking suspicious, lol. Best moment ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      That sounds like a fun memory. Did you ever get the photo, or did he catch you in the act? 😉 I also think it’s great that you guys share writing! It always makes the craft feel a little less lonely, yeah? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • E. E. Rawls says:

        I only managed to get his back. I think he was starting to wonder what we were up to, so I had to stop and pretend I was looking at pottery. 😄 It’s so much fun to share writing and characters! And it’s been a huge help too. Friends can catch mistakes that you miss. 🙂

        Like

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Yeah, we were kinda floored when we saw the name on the receipt. That alone made us a little eager to tell him, but we decided that we didn’t want to look really weird and crazy. 😛 Still, it’s a great memory!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. stevenguglich says:

    Wow! Ariel, that is such a cute little story. It’s beautifully written with its own amount of sass. And, I love the title! Congratulations on meeting one of your characters in the wild. Did it ever occur to you that you might have actually created him all those years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Thanks so much, Steven. I’m glad the writing worked well (I didn’t think too hard about it!) It didn’t occur to me, no. I think I’d be afraid to find out that a mere thought was creating some people out there in the world. I’d feel too responsible for all their flaws and drama!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. parrickj says:

    That is the best part about being an author. I met a guy a couple weeks ago and was like dude I know you, your the main character in one of my books lol

    Like

  7. D. Wallace Peach says:

    That is so cool.. What fun meeting a character after the fact! I’ve based characters on someone I’ve met in passing once in a while, but haven’t met anyone from one from my books. I would love that. 🙂 Fun post, Alex.

    Liked by 1 person

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