How do you create your characters?

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I am Kellea Sullivan.

Really, my name is Patricia La Vigne.

So where did the name Kellea Sullivan originate?

When I began to put my story of Wind-Free together, I had no problem finding the name for the horse who played a major role in the story. While composing my first draft, it popped into my head, and I couldn’t let go of it.

“A horse that would run as free as the wind.” That is how the heroine of the story described the foal she saw racing from the owner’s yard. “Wind-Free” became the skinny colt who would one day race through all three events of the Triple Crown. It’s the story of a young girl’s bonding with a stolen foal and the unconditional love they shared.

But choosing a name for this young lady went through several attempts to find just the right one.

First of all, she had to be of Irish descent. Being Irish myself (of O’Brien, Kelly, and Feeley lineage), it just appealed to me. That’s the “Sullivan” part.

 

Patricia LaVigne
Patricia LaVigne

Second, she had to be an only child of Texas parents who taught her to love and respect all life. This included animals of all species, although horses were her favorite.

Third, she had to be young enough to still need her parents’ guidance, yet mature enough to show the growing independence that teen-agers begin to experience as they explore and broaden their horizons in their widening world.

I like names spelled in unusual ways and when the name “Kelly” popped into my head, I knew the spelling had to be unique. It could be Kellee, or Kelley. Both lost the vote. “Kellea” was born. Then when I took the story to my critique group, someone pronounced the name like “Kellee-ah.” I corrected that in a hurry, but at the same time I knew the readers of the book probably would come up with their own versions. Oh, well. I was determined to keep the spelling anyway.

As each chapter grew out of the computer, I began to put my desires into Kellea’s personality. I never had a fond remembrance of my own teen-age years, so Kellea became the person I wish I had been at ages fourteen and fifteen.

She has a strength of character and determination I yearned for at that age. She grows from a young girl who folds at frustration, but finds her desires supersede the obstacles. It is then she begins to find her niche in life. Her parents find it difficult to begin letting go of the “apron strings,” but learn they must also trust Kellea’s instincts to find her role as an emerging adult.

Kellea was an easy character to write because I knew the kind of person I would be if I could have chosen my pathway in life. Yet, she was also a challenge to develop because I had to keep a realistic picture of this young lady trying to balance her character flaws with her ability to achieve what she wanted—a special friendship with an amazing horse.

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