Thursday, 24 October 2013

Growing attached to make-believe characters - this happened to you?

Are you one of those people who becomes quite attached to characters in books or TV shows? Are you left with an almost empty feeling once that last page has been turned or that show you've spent years of your life following ends? I am, and I'll quite happily admit that. 

Can't even begin to tell you how much I'm missing this show...

Those of you who know me well know I am currently going through a period of such "loss" following the end of Breaking Bad. And it's a strange feeling, because, it's also a feeling that doesn't happen all that often, believe it or not. It's quite rare for me to feel that strongly about a TV show. But, for the past fortnight, I have felt such a weird emptiness after watching the Breaking Bad finale that it's shocked even me. I don't know whether it's because we binge-watched the entire five seasons in just a matter of weeks, meaning I grew very attached very quickly, which, in turn, meant that those characters I'd fallen in love with were also snatched away from me just as quickly. All I know is I still can't really accept that that show is over, and, a t-shirt, keyring, and one Breaking Bad 2014 calender later and I'm still not really dealing with it. It's going to take time...

I swear, if this actually existed I'd be joining it...
Am I the only one who feels that way? No. I'm not, I'm sure I'm not. I mean, such has been the depth of feeling over the "demise" of the fictional Walter White in Breaking Bad, that a fake funeral and memorial service was actually held for the character in Albuquerque, where the show was filmed and set, last Saturday. The proceeds of that event are going to a very worthy Albuquerque-based charity, I hasten to add, but it just goes to show that some characters become such a huge part of peoples' lives that when they're no longer there, it becomes a case of finding our own personal way of coping with that "loss". And those ways aren't, quite obviously, always conventional. 

Personally, I've been going along a much more tried and tested route of just trying to find something new to watch to fill that void, which hasn't been easy, but I think I've managed it with a show called Justified. All four seasons have actually been shown on British TV, so God knows how I managed to miss them, but we're catching up with them all now, in preparation for the fifth season starting next year, and I'm liking it. A lot. Just like Breaking Bad, it's managed to grab me from the very start, and the fact it has the rather gorgeous Timothy Olyphant in the lead role of Raylan Givens (even the name gives me goose bumps) means that beating the post-Breaking Bad blues has just become that little bit easier. I'm a sucker for a hot guy in cowboy boots and a stetson... But am I going to miss Raylan when he's gone half as much as I'm missing Walter White and Jesse Pinkman? Who knows. Justified is still current, and I'm only four episodes into the first season, so I don't know how much I'm going to like this show, or how I'm going to feel about Raylan Givens in a few weeks time. We'll see. But, right now, I still don't think it's possible to miss a show as much as I'm missing Breaking Bad.

Timothy Olyphant as US Marshal Raylan Givens in 'Justified'.
Anyway, just what is it that makes us fall for certain characters harder than others? Why do some leave us cold whilst others make us totally crazy for them? Well, if we're talking about book characters here, then it has to be all about the writing, doesn't it? If an author can make a character so believable; if they can make them almost come to life on the pages of that book, to the point where a reader really begins to feel attached to them, then they've done a great job. And I guess the same has to be said about TV characters, too. Sorry to bang on about Breaking Bad again, but it was the writing in that show that made it what it was, along with some incredible acting. And it was exactly the opposite, in my opinion, that meant I really couldn't take to Dexter. We have to be able to care about the characters, be that loving them or hating them. Because any feeling is better than just being left with a bit of a "meh" attitude towards them. Which is how I felt about the characters in Dexter. But with Breaking Bad, despite the fact some pretty nasty and downright illegal things were going on with quite a few of the characters in that show, it was difficult to hate them. They took you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I think that is so important, in books as well as on TV shows. You have to be able to care about the characters.

And moving onto the subject of characters in books, I heard someone yesterday describe the new Helen Fielding 'Bridget Jones' book as "boring". She said the character of Bridget just simply wasn't likeable anymore. So, has Ms. Fielding failed to bring Bridget back to her former glory? Have both she and her publisher just assumed that this third book would be popular without even trying? I don't know, personally, because I haven't read it yet. I loved the previous two 'Bridget' books, though, so I'll be utterly disappointed if this one really doesn't live up to the hype. Because Bridget Jones is one of my favourite book characters. Along with the character of Lucky Santangelo, created by the fabulous Jackie Collins.

So, as an author, do I myself miss my own characters once I've finished writing a particular book? Hell, yes! When I finished No Matter What I could have sat in a corner and cried because I'd just spent months writing about characters that had been in my head for almost 20 years! And I missed them more than I could begin to imagine, which was why going back to revisit them all in Illusions of Love a few months later was such a labour of love. And I'm feeling the same way about the characters in the Striker Trilogy. At first, when I was writing Striker, Book #1 in the series, it was only ever intended as a stand-alone book. But as the story progressed, and the characters grew, I knew I couldn't let them go. Not yet. There was so much more to give from all of them. Which is the reason why it turned into a trilogy. And, as I write the final installment of that trilogy, it's suddenly beginning to hit home that this is the last few months I'll get to spend with these guys, and that's hard. When you spend so much time with those characters living inside your head; when you live their lives for them every single day they become a huge part of you, so saying goodbye is never easy. But then, on the positive side, it just means I get the chance to create a new set of characters I can grow attached to. Every cloud and all that...

So, for me, it isn't just about those characters I read in a book or watch on my TV screen - it's also about the characters I create in my own books. Every single one of them has a place in my heart, and every single one of them has been hard to say goodbye to. But nothing has been as hard as saying goodbye to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman... that's proving to be something that's going to take time, but, there's a hot guy in cowboy boots and a stetson that just might make that job a little bit easier over the coming weeks...

Are there any characters - from books or TV - that you're still missing now? And what made them so hard to say goodbye to? I'd love to know, so, please share!


  1. Great post! It's so weird how we can grow so attached to characters that are completely made up! I mean, it kind of makes sense with TV shows because like you said, the acting plays a huge part and although they are a made up character, it helps having the perfect person acting it out in front of you and you can't imagine anyone else playing that character.

    It's weird with book characters though! You've not got a visual representation of the character (unless it's made into a film) it's just a made up character going from the authors head to yours so really, it's both our faults we end up so attached! I read The Naughty Girls Book Club by Sophie Hart and cried at the end because I was so happy for all the characters... Ha-ha.

    1. That means the author obviously did a fabulous job of creating those characters, Jenny. :) And I might just have to read that book myself now and see if it makes me cry, too. I'm an emotional wreck at the best of times!! Lol!!