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111_Country... Culture... Character

“Ciao Iain! You seem to know much regarding other countries and cultures. I am Sicilian and like Captain Falco very much. He reminds me of my family. How do you create your characters?” (Paulu of Palermo, Sicily)

Ciao Paulu! It is good to hear from you again, my friend.

First off (as you know), I’m fascinated, humbled and in love with other countries and their cultures. For me, it is the greatest source of knowledge and inspiration. Much of my connection with other countries and cultures stems from my family that hales from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Eastern Europe and northern Africa (to name a few). I conduct intense research on the countries my characters come from. Many times, I even base them (change the names) on people I know from my travels to these areas of the world.

A Sicilian from a tough part of Palermo inspired me when creating captain Falco. Commander Shar’ran is based on a boxer I sparred with in my youth who was from Yemen (kicked my ass in the ring and was the kindest person outside of it).

When I create a character, I begin with someone (or a combination of people) I’ve met that made an impression on me. I create the characters name and then I imagine how the character makes others feel when they're around them. Fear? Hope? Sexual? Funny? Safe? Etc. I finally sit back and imagine them (Captain Falco) walking through a crowded pub. Are people hurrying out of their way or are they drawn toward them to share a pint? Or worse, maybe they don't notice them at all? I then build a detailed history (past) of their life so I get a feel for what drives them now and in the future.

From this point forward, if I did my job, the character begins to speak more to me than I do ‘for’ them. If I find I am constantly speaking for the character, instead of being inspired by what the character is doing and saying… there’s a good chance a death scene is coming soon.

A very abbreviated method to my character madness, but hopefully gets to the heart of my process.

Thank you for your question Paulu and give my love to your family.

Ciau Nni videmu Salutamu A biatu!

– Iain


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