writing

Character Inspiration for the Dead Soil World

I’ve finally started outlining and planning my third and final book in the Dead Soil trilogy, “Dead World”. To help me stay on track with the characters and their changes and progressions I like to collect photos for character inspiration. It helps me to bring them to life in the story and I like to share that with my readers so they too can see what I’m seeing as I write and work on the story.

I have always used Amanda Seyfried as the character inspiration for Christine, one of the main characters in my story. In the world before zombies she was a lawyer in Chicago, kind of an introvert when outside the courtroom, and had no idea how to survive when the apocalypse hit. Her fiancĂ©, Liam Scott, helped her to make it through each day and slowly built her up into a woman who could take care of herself, and just in time. Without giving too much away, Christine has horse knowledge from taking lessons in her childhood. She also has practiced archery hard during the winter trapped in the apartment complex from the balcony so she’s pretty good with a recurve and a crossbow now, though she definitely wasn’t always. The new world is getting to her as she struggles with her grief over the loved ones she’s lost and she may be starting to crack.

Zack Kran is one of the other main characters. Before the world crumbled he was a small-time local comic book store owner, struggling to keep the doors open. He also loved to skateboard. He lived in the same apartment complex as Christine and Liam and he was Liam’s close friend, maybe even best friend. In the beginning he and Christine didn’t always get along, but since being thrown together for survival they have grown closer in their friendship. Being into Fantasy, Folklore, Comics, Fandoms, Collectibles, and more Zack had a basic knowledge of medieval swords and using them. He had replicas of many such as the Game of Throne sword and Lord of the Rings sword in his shop which he then used for his survival. Swords and Bowie Knife have been his weapons of choice. He used to be a goofball, the jokester, but the apocalypse has changed him and he is more stoic, quiet, and still now. he cares for his group deeply and will do anything to make sure they stay alive.

Lee Hickey is originally from Ireland. He came to America to study medicine and become a nurse. He is incredibly tall and built, the muscle nurse so to say, though he has a gentle nature about him. Before the world fell apart he had a wife, two in-laws who were not so fond of him, and plans to start a family of his own in his new home. He was at the hospital when the plague hit. Dead Beginnings Volume 2 explains what happens in that time and how he survived his first days in detail. When we first meet him in Dead Soil he is a part of a group of wanderers trying to survive in the woods of the Dunes State Park. He is quiet, stoic, a loner, and does not become attached to anyone in the group. When Olivia Darling, a teenager he helped in the ER right before the apocalypse hit, finds him he becomes obsessed with ensuring her survival as if she were his own family. Lee runs into some serious trouble at the end of Dead Road, book 2, and now his fate hangs in the balance of a new group of bunker dwellers’ hands.

Olivia Darling is a teen with sass and sarcasm. It’s how she gets through the rough days of the apocalypse. Before this new world engulfed her, she was a softball all-star at her high school with plans to join the USA Team. Dead Beginnings Volume 3 tells the story of her life before and how she survived the beginning of the apocalypse before she finds Lee and the wanderers in the middle of Dead Soil, which is when we first meet her. She quickly attaches to Lee and looks to him as an older brother, father-type figure. Not that she can’t protect herself. She has her lucky bat and puts it to good use every chance she gets, almost enjoying taking down the zombies in her way. Somehow she keeps her sense of humor and positivity through the hell she’s been put through. In Dead World she’s not going to have such a good time and it may make her realize the world will never be what it was before.

Luke Benson was a librarian before the apocalypse. He was divorced and had weekends with his young teen daughter, Imani. He lived in the same apartment complex as Christine, Liam, and Zack. He always seemed scared and not willing to help the others to survive, but more expecting them to just take care of things for him. Until one day he disappeared without a word. But his story isn’t over and we see him again in Dead Road, hardly changed, more of a coward than before, and willing to let everyone else put their lives on the line to protect him, even his fourteen-year-old daughter.

Imani Benson is Luke’s daughter. She’s fourteen and has learned how to survive well in this new world. Her weapon of choice is a bat with nails sticking out all over. She is unlike the others, hardened and willing to do what needs to be done, thanks to her loss and also her young age. She’s lived in the apocalypse from thirteen to fourteen and now almost fifteen it’s becoming all she knows, forgetting what life was like before this new world. She befriends Olivia immediately when they first meet, looking to her as an older sister in this messed up world. Imani hates the way her father cowers and hides behind everyone. So much contempt and disgust has built up inside her for the man that she begins to believe she hates him. Dead Beginnings Volume 4 is going to be Imani’s first days of survival story, coming in 2022.

Mac is the leader of the underground bunker at his farm. After the apocalypse he barricaded himself in there, keeping his farm running by making small trips up to the surface. Over time he collected survivors and invited them to live down in his dwelling, which has enough room for a small community. Not much is known about Mac except that he is a Christian, he always looks on the bright side, he’s a hard worker, he comes from a family of farmers, and he likes taking care of others. Everyone looks to him as a leader because he is kind and fair and wise. He makes his introduction in Dead Road. I plan to write a Dead Beginnings on him eventually but not sure when or what number it will be.

This is a new character to Dead World, Svend. He is one of the bunker dwellers. Little is really known about him except he is Danish, he is comparable to Lee Hickey is height and brawn. He comes from a Danish farm up the road, visiting family from Denmark to help them turn their farm around before it goes under. His weapon of choice is a battle axe. Where he got it is a mystery. He has long hair he wears in a braid and shaved sides which makes him look like a formidable Viking from the past. He speaks broken English, is quiet, watches and observes more than participates, but stands firm in his values and morals and isn’t afraid to set someone straight if he thinks they’re out of line. He is a big help to the original group when a new threat falls upon the bunker.

Jonathan Rivers was an intern at a CDC medical research facility in downtown Chicago before the plague hit, a grad student from Rush University. The minute the zombies came out the facility went into lockdown and all the scientists have been held up in there ever since. Jonathan is the one who lets Christine and Zack in at the end of Dead Road with Liam’s journal in hand, hoping it holds the cure to the plague. Jonathan knows basically nothing of the world outside his facility’s walls. He has a positive, jokester attitudes unspoiled by the world. He is the go between for Christine and Zack with the top scientists working on a vaccine for the zombie plague.

Dr. Hemal Bhatt is the lead scientists working on the cure/vaccine for the zombie plague. They had discovered so much in their time of isolation and feel they are on the verge of a breakthrough, especially with the clues they have been able to pick out from Liam’s tattered journal. She is hopeful, but does not sugar coat things for Christine and Zack. She rarely comes to see them in person, but sends Jonathan to relay messages.

Without giving away too much, one character has fallen to a fate worse than death and now the group is rushing to find a way to save them. Zombies have picked up their past after the ice of winter thawed and now that its Spring there are more than ever wandering the world looking to sink their teeth into some fresh flesh.

Carolyn Bock was always the pretty girl with relationship issues constantly on the lookout for Mr. Right. She worked HR at the local Steel Mill and loved all the country boys that would come through a flirt with her. She was flighty and not all that bright but she was always a good friend, looking out for a poor woman in the apartment complex who was abused by her husband. When the apocalypse hit Carolyn was useless. She had no clue how to use any weapon or how to survive. Because of Luke’s cowardice she escaped the apartment complex and ended up joining the wanderers in the Dunes State Park. There she learned to build her confidence and found stronger women to show her how to use a Bowie Knife properly. They encouraged her and practiced with her until she became formidable. Carolyn is also growing inside as she grows in skill. She no longer clings to any man she finds for protection but is realizing she is capable of protecting herself and others. In Dead World she runs into something new she has never had to deal with before, and it will test her and push her to her limits. Here’s hoping she survives it.

Rowan Brady was a trendy man with questionable friends before the apocalypse. He invested way too much time in his looks and not enough in his confidence or personality. When the apocalypse hit he attached himself to someone he saw as stronger for protection. He learned under him as an apprentice, never questioning his poor moral values and choices if it kept them alive. At the end of Dead Road he is left in a truly terrible state, on the brink of death, and a major story-line of Dead World is going to be a race against the clock to save him.

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