I was never really able to get a handle on my character Adair in Enemy Women until I found the right image for her. Then she just jumped out at me and was herself. It’s not really a photo from the Civil War era, I found it in a book about women’s clothing, styles, fashions during the 19th century. The woman and era were unidentified but my best guess is that she is from a Mediterranean or Greek ethnic group and the photo is of a quality that would put it in the late 19th century. But it would serve; for Adair, from the Ozarks, 1861. it fired my imagination and I had my character. There you are, where have you been?
Same with Alan, in Zain. I was floundering around with an action hero, male, in the same dystopic world as in Lighthouse Island, a person who was defiant, always moving forward, never backed down. Somebody with a goal and a mission. Working with a character like that is so very different from working with one who is a clever evader. It is two different worlds. So this image from the Devil May Cry video game was him, it was what I needed to ground the character. Okay so they’re both goodlooking, there you go. So what. It’s all imaginary.
Technically, I fell into some interesting challenges. The story requires that your character know how things work, so she/he can work fast, get things done, and move like a rocket toward their goal, their desires, their vision of how things should be. And all the dangers and ambiguities that involves. Which led me into searching the internet for steam power, train-hopping, how prisons maintain security, third-world cities and the economy of slums and of the poor, flooding effects, river drainages, and on and on.