Do you ever find yourself walking down a street or sitting in a pub somewhere and suddenly look round to see somebody who looks exactly like a character you have written?
It’s an eerie sensation. As Hector of the ‘History Boys’ would say: “when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is… And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
He’s talking about reading, but this is more sensational than thoughts or ideas shared because there is no reason that a face that you have imagined need be out there, coupled with the right approximate age, right kind of body… It’s as if someone has been plucked from my mind and placed before me, more real and more solid than they have a right to be.
Madness comes over me. I want to speak to them. I want to photograph them. I want to ask them to pose for portraits. Sometimes, for the right kinds of characters, I want to cry and hold them.
They are, for a moment, my creations incarnate.
It’s a strange world, the writing world, because some characters you only see fragments of, or you forget what they look like except for the noted characteristics: hair colour, eye colour, height, age and gender. They could be anyone. Sometimes fairly major characters. Others you have a sense for, you can find pictures of people who “look quite like”, but never truly decsribe the full image. And then there are those characters you may meet in real life: the haunting ones. The ones whose dreams you have. The ones you cry for when you kill. The ones you know so intimately and so exactly that you can close your eyes and see every line and muscle in their face,for whom you could never compromise a single characteristic because they are real in your mind as if you had already met them.
And then, there they are before you, like a ghost.