Last Christmas, I wrote a children’s picture book about my granddaughter’s imaginary friend, Kelsey. Kelsey is a reindeer that Reagan “found” here in Colorado the Christmas when she was two and took back to South Africa. Ever since, Kelsey has gone on all kinds of adventures with Reagan—to the beach, to the store, to church—everywhere. Kelsey has traveled with Reagan, slept, played, and had fun with her for over two years.
In October, Reagan Skyped with us and announced that she had put Kelsey on an airplane to come to our house and get her room ready for their Christmas visit! What an imagination!
I decided to join in the fun and write a story about Kelsey’s visit with us. It turned out to be an adorable children’s book, and several people have suggested I publish it for a larger market. Though I haven’t yet done that, it’s an interesting thought.
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? I did, and I can guess many writers probably did. Now that I’m writing fiction for adults and children, I get to have a whole cast of imaginary friends—the characters of my books. They have personalities, quirks, talents, abilities, and all the kinds of things that make my real friends so interesting and fun to be around.
Just like Kelsey became a friend to Reagan, I hope my characters will become friends to my readers. I hope readers can visualize my characters, experience them, and come to love or dislike them, just as I have.
Kelsey was so real to Reagan that on our way to the Christmas Eve service, a herd of deer was grazing in a field near our home. Reagan saw them and was convinced that one of the deer was Kelsey coming to wish her a Merry Christmas before her deer friend went to help Father Christmas deliver presents to the children around the world!
That’s the kind of characters I want to create. Characters that live and breathe and show up in the hearts and minds of my readers.
What makes characters “real” to you? I’d love to know!
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