I did not find Teodor Rey. He found me.
I’ve written on social media about “finding” my characters. I found Nicolai from Masterpiece in the Musée d’Orsay. I found Jacques from Paradise in my husband of over two decades. I found Sabin from Godsend in the Salt Lick BBQ in Texas. (All right, I’ll admit it. I also found Sabin in a mountain of sappy, arguably cliched, beach-read romance novel heroes, but I like candy and Sabin is my sweet, sweet indulgence.)
Teo is different.
Teo comes from a place deep inside me. He personifies so much that is simply me. My passions, my fears, my darkest desires, my religious conflict, my need for something greater than myself, my abiding love for my one and only, my art, my dichotomy. He was the easiest “character” to write because when he whispered his story into my ear, I’d heard it before. I’d lived it before. The outward manifestations of his story may be different from my own, but the underlying emotions are identical.
People often ask me whether my characters are expressions of myself. Some tell me that they are (and that makes me giggle a bit). In the case of Harmony, if you would like a glimpse at the real Jillian, look at Teo.
Because Teo is my intimate, I was able to do something in his book that I’ve never done. I gave my poetry to the world. I’ve written poems — if you can call what I write poetry — for years. I’ve never shared them. Until now. Until Teo showed me that my words are his voice. I could not tell his story without telling my own.
Even his appearance is familiar to me. I did not have to craft his physical characteristics. I simply saw Teo. The first time I looked at the cover of Harmony, I literally squealed in delight. April Martinez, my cover artist, saw Teo too and created a perfect blending of the music men who combined in my mind’s eye to create my rock star.
Teodor Rey is the character I love more than any other I have written, and Harmony is the book about which I am most proud. As happy as I am to give Harmony to the world, I am also sad to part with my Teodor.
Love him well, world. He is yours now.
Further reading on the craft points of characterization:
Writing-World.com assembled a super list of articles on all things characterization: http://www.writing-world.com/menus/characters.shtml
Gotham Writer’s Characterization Questionnaires: https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/character-questionnaire
Author’s Craft Narrative Elements-Characterization: http://udleditions.cast.org/craft_elm_characterization.html