I usually base my characters on traits of real people I know or have observed. In ‘White Wolf Moon’ Annie the shopping cart lady was solely taken from a woman I frequently saw in Kamloops and all the central characters were based on real friends I had back in the day.
With the sequel to ‘White Wolf Moon’ I chose to invent a couple of people to provide a little excitement for my main character Evan Morris…a sixty-something peace lovin’ laid-back hippie-type. One of these folks is Fergus Lloyd, a backwoods socially awkward and slightly uneducated hillbilly kind of guy who gets into a physical confrontation with Evan over an old truck. Those that have read ‘White Wolf Moon’ will know how the old truck plays into the plot. This was a scene created to fill out the story of Ginn, Evan’s white wolf-cross.
At first I thought I’d over-written the character and perhaps turned him into more of a caricature of a culture I know little about but today (this is where the déjà vu comes in) I realized I have perhaps been too gentle with him.
Today was a shopping day for me. I hit all the stores that stock stuff I collect from Hot Wheels to wolf merchandise. All I had left was to pick up some groceries for our food bank donation so I decided to grab a coffee and a donut. I do this so rarely that it’s still a bit of a treat for me.
I’d just settled in with my two double-chocolate donuts and my double-double coffee (I know but I love saying ‘double-double’) when two fellas sat at the table across from me. Yup…Fergus was one of them. He had the same build and was literally wearing the same clothes that I described in the scene, right down to the beaten hat. He then took off said hat to (lo and behold) reveal the same close haircut, almost shaved.
It was when he started talking that really brought a bit of a shiver. The same dialect and lack of grasp of the English language spilled from his lips. His speech patterns were almost identical to those I had gifted to Fergus right down to the repetition of certain words and phrases. His eyes were constantly studying the room and the people seated around him. He was loud and gruff and gave the impression he wouldn’t take kindly to anyone looking back at him.
From the scene I wrote: “He presented himself as a foreboding adversary but there was some sort of fear there, an uncertainty. Swagger aside Evan sensed he was staring into the eyes of the hunted.” That’s the impression this man gave.
It is chilling to run into a character you created, especially this one. He is a character that pulls sympathy from you one minute and the next minute he has you wondering what he’s going to do and how much it’s going to hurt. While Fergus dealt out some physical punishment to Evan I doubt the man in the donut shop would have done the same although considering my almost-perfect physical representation of him I decided not to stick around and find out.
For various reasons it’s been a while since I posted to this blog. Mostly it’s because I’ve been editing and rewriting the book but now that the snow has gone I have spent many hours cleaning up the result of my laziness last fall. All those leaves that didn’t get raked, the gardens that didn’t get cleaned, and the overall mess that disappeared when the snows came have commanded my attention over the last week or so. If I’m not guiding Evan Morris through some new adventure I’m driving to the compost site to deposit the results of my labors. As such I really had nothing to talk about….until now.
Copyright. A simple word really and one that I respect. As a photographer and graphic artist over the years I have always followed all the rules and generally if you credit the original artist for the photograph or illustration and use said material in a legal and morally sound fashion there is no problem. Of course it’s best to get written permission but when someone invites you to share said material as long as it has “copyright by…” clearly visible then I assume (bad move on my part) that it’s okay.
This only works if the person who’s asking you to include the “copyright by…” actually holds the copyright to all the elements contained…words and photographs.
I received a nice notification (I’m not being sarcastic, it really was a nice email) from WordPress regarding a photograph I had used in one of my posts. The photographer who actually owns the photo was upset (understandably) that I was using his image on my page. WordPress had already deleted the offending photo by the time I checked it out but I also deleted any and all images that I had taken from this source. As a point of interest other than these three images all photographs and illustrations contained in my blogs are mine completely. They are photographs I have taken…some modified…but all mine. The reason I chose to use those other images was that I have none that suited that particular subject matter. This is a case where no photo would have been the best plan.
I emailed the photographer and apologized, stating my case as best I could. I have realized now that what is actually claimed as copyright is the phrase that accompanies the photograph, not the photograph. Fair enough and quite above board. I have also noticed that more recent images do contain the name of the photographer on a different line from the copyright. Again fair enough although I don’t recall seeing another name on the photograph that I used nearly a year ago.
I’m not upset about any of this (I have no right to be) and I fully accept responsibility for my misinterpretation or error that resulted in this copyright breach. I’ve learned a lesson and I’m passing that lesson on to you.
Once again I publicly apologize to the photographer. His photographs are of various subject matters and are truly outstanding and as much as I’d love to share a link to his work I feel I’ve already infringed enough upon his talent. If he reads this I invite him to post a link on this page if he so desires.