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Where Do My Characters Come From, The Final Chapter

  Posted by Joe Stephens , 18 March 2017 · 58 views

As I hope you know, I've spent the last three weeks answering the number one question I get asked at author and book events, which is, "Where do your characters come from?" I talked about Harry, Dee, and Jenn, and I want to wrap up this week talking about a few characters who are inspired directly by folks I know. 
The real-life Keith, Jennifer, Jonathan
and Maria, aka Pepper.


The first pair I want to talk about is the pastor of Harry and Dee's church and his wife. Their names are Jonathan and Pepper and they are based on two of my best friends, Jonathan and Maria Delgado. Jonathan is the Family Life Minister at my church and Maria, his wife, is known, mostly by me, as Pepper. I've talked about her before. She has become my unpaid personal assistant and designated beta reader just because she wants to be. And they are both my great friends. In the storyline, Jonathan performs the memorial service for Emma Grace and Pepper becomes Jenn's confidante after she is rescued from the clutches of her crazy father. They are pretty much exact replicas of my Jonathan and Pepper in that they are some of the kindest, most loving people I know. And, in a fun twist, the fictional Pepper knows an author named Joe Stephens. 

With my Dr. Mathur at a
Baltimore Orioles game.
The next character that is based on a real life person is Dr. Jennifer Schoenhut, who was Dee's therapist as she learned to cope with the loss of Emma Grace and then Harry's as he tries to overcome the guilt of maiming Jenn's biological father. Dr. Schoenhut, known affectionately to Harry as Doc, is based on the female half of my other best couple friends, Keith and Jennifer Schoenhut. Keith hasn't appeared directly in any of the books (yet), and the real-life Jennifer is not a therapist, but the fictional one is just like her in pretty much every other way. She's beautiful just like the real one. They have a baby named Samuel (my godson) and she is such a good listener who loves people enough to tell them the truth that they need to hear even when it is not necessarily what they want to hear. She helps Harry to become accountable for what he has done and to find his way to grace and forgiveness. It's that kind of compassion and love that I see from my Jennifer all the time. 

Finally, a character who is definitely based on a real-life person is Dr. Priya Mathur. Her from-the-real-world counterpart is Dr. Poonam Mathur. While my Dr. Mathur is not an OB/GYN (she studies infectious diseases), her caring manner and brilliance are definitely just like the fictional one. And she's so humble that she will disagree with everything I just said. But don't believe her. I may be prejudiced because I love her like a daughter, but I'm also right. 

So that winds up this portion of my series on reader questions. Next week: Where do I get my story ideas? 


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