Hello again! Two blogs in a row? What is this, Disneyland? No, it's not. And no, that didn't make much sense, so let's move on. As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's exciting announcement about the release date for the e-book of IT FALLS APART (June 28th) and the shiny, new cover coming on May 21st (have you signed up for email updates yet? --->), today I'm going to treat you to a little taste of how things appeared in my mind's eye as I wrote IT FALLS APART. Often, when I start a new story, I have a very rough idea of what I want my characters to look like. Sometimes they're based on specific actors or fictional characters while other times they're closer to some composite of elements I've formed in my brain. Sometimes they're a little fuzzier and less well-defined, but start to take shape as I write, leading me to later identify them with someone in particular. In the case of IT FALLS APART, I had a pretty clear idea of what one particular character looked like, but the others were more in that fuzzy zone, where I had a rough idea, but not a specific person in mind. So to help me with the process, I started to look for images that might help me fully flesh out the characters and settings in the book, so I could turn to them whenever I wanted to get a strong visual.
When it comes to "casting" characters in my books, I tend to avoid really mainstream blockbuster actors and actresses who've already made too strong an impression on me, especially if they're already in big YA franchises that have left them as someone very specific in my head. In other words, as lovely as she is, it's unlikely any of my protagonists will ever be the spitting image of J-Law. That said, there are times when someone is just the right match, and as long as my brain can make the connection without seeing the a-lister as someone else, they end up being a good fit.
So, how do I (roughly) picture Harper, Luke, Chloe, and Meera? Let's take a look:
Alicia von Rittberg as Harper Donnelly
Honestly, I don't know much about Alicia von Rittberg. I just know that when I saw some pictures of her, I said, "That's what Harper looks like, except Harper has darker hair." Sometimes casting my main protagonist is hardest because she's the most like me of all the characters, and I want my readers to be able to identify with her too. I often don't include detailed physical descriptions in any of my books because I really do like my readers to be able to picture the characters however they want to. I'll give little hints about hair color or length, but if the reader wants to picture Harper as a different ethnicity, I want them to be able to do that without too much trouble. It's hard. I know some people like a lot of physical description so they can really picture the characters as I do, but I suppose this post is for them! This is Harper to me. A pretty girl-next-door. Casual, confident, and beautiful, without looking too-unrealistically-Hollywood gorgeous.
Jeremy Irvine as Luke Coleman
Of course, Luke has to be a babe. But he also has to capture that boy-next-door quality too. Casting the heroes in my books is also often a challenge because again, I want someone who is definitely hot enough to be a supermodel, but doesn't look like he was born to walk the runway. Jeremy Irvine captures the Luke look to me. Very cute, gorgeous lips, but you could still picture him working in the barn at the inn. Not a "pretty boy", though he is very pretty to look at. I think Harper would more than approve :)
Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar as Meera Chabra
With Hollywood still coming up short with regards to casting diversity, there isn't exactly a large selection of young, Indian actresses to consider when it comes to casting someone like Meera. Hopefully one day there will be a significantly larger pool of Indian actresses to consider, but I did do some research into Bollywood films to see if I could find someone who fit the image of Meera I had in my head. In the end, nobody quite clicked until I found Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, who actually is of Hollywood ilk, playing in Slumdog Millionaire. As soon as I saw Tanvi, I knew she was Meera, right down to her mostly sweet, but a little bit sassy smile.
Chloë Grace Moretz as Chloe Pascal
Chloë is Chloe. She's always been Chloe. She's the reason Chloe was named Chloe. I think CGM is a very cool young woman (having loved her since Kick-Ass) and I think my Chloe is a very cool young woman too. Yes, in a story where we're rooting for Harper and Luke, there may be an underlying desire to see Chloe as the enemy, but really, she's not. She's Harper's BFF for a reason. She's sweet and funny with a big heart. It would have been easy to write her as a bad person, or someone Harper could easily have a falling out with to pave the way for her and Luke hooking up, but no. Whether it's Harper and Chloe or Harper and Meera, strong female friendships were an important component of IT FALLS APART as I set out to write and I hope Chloe comes across as lovely and likable even if she is a pretty big obstacle for Harper and Luke.
So, that's it for casting. I almost never bother to cast the adult characters in my books (Nan is every awesome grandma you've ever met all rolled into one), and I haven't yet taken the time to cast side characters like Yuvin, Carter, Lewis, or Eden. I have images of them in my mind, but they're still in that fuzzy state. And like I said, I really do like my readers to be able to imagine the characters for themselves. In fact, if you've been picturing them a certain way, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Before I sign off on this post, I'll share a few more bonus images with you, which I also had saved in my inspiration folder for IT FALLS APART:
The main house at the Coleman Country Inn
A guest cabin at The Coleman Country Inn
Harper and Nan's cottage-like home
Berne Harbor, based on Bar Harbor, Maine
I've never been to Bar Harbor (or Maine for that matter--YET), but I based the fictional town of Berne Harbor on it because it perfectly captures everything I wanted Harper's touristy hometown to be.
Harper's prom dress
I'd love to include Meera's prom dress too, but that one was 100% from my brain and I'm yet to stumble across an image that captures it.