Day 9: Visual Inspirations

Susanna Fraser lives in Seattle with her husband and 6-year-old daughter. Her debut book, The Sergeant’s Lady, is available now from Carina Press and wherever ebooks are sold. Its prequel, A Marriage of Inconvenience, will be an April 2011 release. Susanna can be found at

I’m here today to talk about one piece of my inspiration for my debut historical romance, The Sergeant’s Lady. But I’m not going to tell you about the real exploits of the 95th Rifles (exciting though they were), nor about the storming of the fortress town of Badajoz in April 1812 (harrowing though it was for all involved), nor 19th century childbirth (glad though I am that all my personal experience is of the 21st century variety).

No, I’m here to talk about Nathan Fillion.

That’s right. Captain Tightpants, for all you Firefly fans, or the one who really is ruggedly handsome on Castle.

You see, he was the visual inspiration for Will Atkins, the hero of The Sergeant’s Lady. I’ll often borrow a real person, sometimes a celebrity and sometimes a friend or relative, to help me picture a character clearly. My imagination is more verbal than visual—I hear my stories more than I see them—so thinking of an actual person helps me get that all-important visual component into my character descriptions.

For Will, I needed someone lean, rugged, on the tall side, and with a certain kind of military bearing. A veteran soldier, a bit too war-weary to be the perfect ramrod-straight spit-and-polish type, but someone you want on your side in any fight because he’s got weapons, dangerous weapons, and he knows how to use them. A man who’s too stubborn to give up even when everything looks hopeless.

When I happened to pop in a Firefly DVD one day shortly after starting The Sergeant’s Lady, I knew I’d found my guy. My Will’s hair is a different shade of brown than Fillion’s, more of a chestnut, and his eyes are different, too—light brown rather than blue. But if you imagine Malcolm Reynolds in a Rifle uniform while you read my book, you won’t be far off from the picture in my head.

One commenter wins a copy of The Sergeant’s Lady in your choice of Kindle format or PDF, so let me know what you think. Do you like learning what (and who!) inspires authors, or would you rather I hadn’t told you any of the above?

Readers, to enter the contest, you need to leave a question or comment for Susanna… and must leave your email address in your comment. We’ll pick the winner on Saturday, December 11.