No. No I am not. Stop asking me that or I might strangle you where you sit. I'm working on it and making progress.
Again, thank you so much for your love and support through all of the moving chaos, from sending me words of encouragement to patiently waiting for Phoenix Morrow to be published. I mean it when I say I #LoveMyReaders.
I can assure you that very few of my characters are actually based on anyone specific. They may be influenced by someone or a group of people, or potentially be an exaggeration, but they are almost never directly based on an individual I know personally. Trying to do that, in my humble opinion, is constraining as an author. If I am requiring myself to wonder if every line of dialogue that character says is true to the person it is supposed to be portraying, I might as well have tied my hand to the table and yet still write. It just doesn't work.
The name "Justen Kent" is the biggest reason I expect to have to answer this question over and over again with regard to Phoenix Morrow. As many of you who know me personally are aware, I have a dear friend named Justen. We've known each other since we were teenagers, and I fully expect him to be cracking jokes at my 80th birthday party. Justen- I'm confident you're reading this, and your tail better be there. My kids call him "Uncle Justen" and he truly is family. He is one of my closest friends, even though I have threatened to crack him over his head on more than one occasion.
That's what friends do.
When An Unusual Path was first published over a year ago, many people wanted to know if the character of Jack Riley was based on Justen. A LOT of people, and you all know who you are. He was not. Justen may have influenced Jack, but so did several of my close male friends. Justen and I have discussed that one day, when he has taken over the world, I will write his biography. Then, AND ONLY THEN, will someone in one of my books be 100% based on him. Until that day comes, stop asking me that.
When I first began working on Phoenix Morrow, Justen and I happened to be on the phone one day. Over the course of our conversation he mentioned being really frustrated with yet another instance where someone misspelled his name. While he knows that a large number of people spell it with an "i" instead of his "e", I can understand how that would be a constant frustration. As someone who has had to teach people how to pronounce Champine (SHAM-pine) my entire life, I can relate to the annoyance.
I said to him, "Well, I have a character that is swirling around in my head right now that still needs a name. He's kind of an a--hole, though. His name can be Justen, and I'll teach everyone to spell it with an e."
Justen's response- "Oh no, don't name your a--hole character after me!"
My answer was certain. "Oh, it's done." He doesn't own that name!
I don't want to give away too much of the story because the novel just came out and many of you are reading it now, but Justen Kent turns out to not be that bad of a guy. I keep telling my friend Justen that this proves that the character isn't based on him. <<wink>>
If you see my dear friend, give him hell for me but spell his name properly. And to all of the Justins out there, never forget that there is more than one way to spell your name. My hope is that someone will ask you, "Is that with an i or an e?" When it happens, let me know. I can't wait to tell Justen about it.
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