Friday, August 08, 2008

Character questions (but beware - ZP spoiler alert)

I did my blog post about Difficult Questions this morning (see below this one) and then I started work on my new novel - working title only - "But I told you last year that I loved you." This morning's task is to begin to build my main characters, so I delved into my files to find the questions that I use for this. I came across the the first notes I did on Rob Walker - one of the characters in Zuzu's Petals - and I thought you might be interested to see them.

Rob Walker

age 53

date of birth June 13th 1952

Sun in Gemini, Moon in Pisces, Merc in Gemini, Venus in Gemini, Mars in Scorpio,Ascendant Cancer

what is his job? illustrator, cartoonist

marital status divorced

children one daughter (27)

describe yourself – physically. "I am not as obese as I was, but could still do with losing a stone. Apart from my weight I don’t look bad for my age. I don’t mean I am good looking but that I don’t look too old."

what colour eyes and hair ? dark hair greying at the temples, brown eyes

what is your eyesight like? good

do you wear jewellery? “You must be joking. Who do you think I am? Michael Barrymore?"

what does he smell of? “Nothing I hope. But when I’ve been cycling I might smell a bit rank but then I have a shower and use Neutrogena shampoo and Johnsons baby powder.”

what is your most prized possession? my summer bike – the Condor

what style is your house done in? “That’s not how I think. I don’t think in terms of domestic style.” pared down – modern, spare

favourite food - “I try not to have favourite foods. I’m on a calorie restricted diet and I can’t afford to even think of food and favourite in the same sentence”

favourite plant/flower/tree - scented roses – they remind him of his (dead) mother

favourite book – Lance Armstrong’s biography, It’s not about the Bike; and Touching the Void

favourite film – Touching the Void – even though he thinks it didn’t do the book justice

telly programmes – satire, The thick of it, Bremner Bird and Fortune,…but only because there’s nothing better on; Ray Mears and any kind of survival programmes; Grand Designs – I like to see the couple working towards a plan

what magazines, if any, does he read? – Bicycling, back copies of Official Tour de France Guides

what type of music does he like? – Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan

what incident in his childhood – big or trivial – does he feel guilty about? teasing Roland Baker for being fat.

guilty secret – eating bacon sandwiches at a cyclists café when he is out

what is his recurrent/recent nightmare? he returns to his house to find it full of people holding a surprise party for him

does he think people are basically good or basically bad? bad

where does he buy his clothes? Hawkshead catalogue and the local Cycle Shop "Bella bought me a voucher from a posh website but they don’t know what to charge for their clothes. I can’t bring myself to spend it because the prices are so ridiculous."

what mannerism does he exhibit when he is nervous? "I clench my teeth so that the muscles in my cheeks twitch. The dentist says it’s bad for my teeth and I am trying to stop."

what are your commonest expressions?

to what does he habitually refer? – his bike, other peoples’ bikes, e.g. "look at those fluid seat stays!" "Did you see the way his chain rings shimmered in the sunshine?" Tour de France escapades/anecdotes/tales of heroism

what does he say when he bangs his toe? nothing. he grits his teeth

what does he say when he answers the phone? Yup?

when he says someone dies, how does he phrase it? "he kicked the bucket"

what does he think he wants? to live to be 130 – longer than the man who ran off with his wife

what does he really want? to be normal and have a normal social life and to feel able to start dating

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