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Claudine Dabec and me

September 4, 2012

A reader writes: “Of course, I was trying to figure out if any of the characters were people I knew, like maybe Major Kozak was [name of someone] or maybe even [name of someone else].”

This reader had just finished my novel, “The Champagne Ladies,” and wondered whether I based the character of Major Kozak on someone we both knew. No, I replied. The character was a figment of my imagination to illustrate one of the novel’s themes: Patriotism run amok. I needed a villain, and so Major Kozak entered the story.

A friend who read the manuscript while I was rewriting it assumed the hero, Ben Podlowski, was me. Not so. He has some of my traits, but so do other characters. I wish I knew how characters were born. I needed someone at a particular moment to do something, so I introduced that character for a specific reason.

After the moment of creation, the characters assumed their own lives, sometimes doing things on their own that I had not planned. They wanted to lead their lives based on the traits I instilled in them and didn’t want me getting in the way. Fine by me.

If I had known someone like Major Kozak during the time the novel takes place, I would have been scared out of my socks. I wish I would have known a guy like Joey Boloccini, one of my favorite characters.

Then there’s Claudine Dabec. A friend wrote and said, “I want to be Claudine!” Well, you can’t. The closest charcter to me in the book is Claudine.

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