Welcome to the casting couch

Ashkay Kumar actorThe ink had hardly dried on my signature on the contract to publish my two ‘Iron Admiral’ books when Diane asked me who I’d cast as the lead characters when Hollywood came calling for the movie rights. Yes, well, all right. A tad premature, but a girl can dream.

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought about it. I know some authors will go to great lengths to find photos of their MCs to help them with their writing. By that I mean the sort of process where you go leafing through magazines or the internet picture galleries looking for suitably inspiring pictures. These are then posted on boards in your writing office or your desktop as handy places to refer to when you’re writing. I suppose it might be particularly useful if you can collect a set of pictures of the same person in a variety of poses, so you can see exactly what they’d look like when smiling, laughing, angry etc etc. I know published authors who work this way.

I’ve already shown you, haven’t I, that I don’t do this? That doesn’t mean I don’t have a very good idea of what they look like and very early in the piece, too. They’re up here <presses fingertip to temple> talking to me, approving, disapproving, tapping their feet when I get it wrong. So to be honest, finding a face to fit can be very difficult.

But <sigh> needs must. Ex-Admiral Chaka Saahren, now, the Iron Admiral of the title. Well, he’s tall, ‘cos I like tall men. About 6’ 4”. (That’s about 193cm metric) He’s not young, around mid 40’s, I’d say. You don’t get to Admiral over night, after all. But of course, in the distant future he’d still have the body of a twenty year old. He’s also not white Caucasian. He has the features of an Indian (subcontinent, not red), that is, black hair, dark (but not black) skin, straight nose. Well, frankly, that pretty much leaves out the leading men in Hollywood. But not the leading men in Bollywood.

Or so I discovered when the redoubtable Diane left this on my wall on Facebook.

Akshay Kumar. Bollywood heartthrob. Well, of course I took a close look. Inspected from all angles. “Hmmm,” I said. “Yes, it has some merit but Saahren would be clean shaven.” In the future military they would save time from all that shaving stuff by having a reversible depilatory. Translate that as ‘Greta isn’t a fan of facial hair and particularly dislikes scratchy stubble’. Hey, he’s MY character.

So off I went. And found these on Mister Kumar’s website.

Ashkay Kumar actor

Just imagine this gentleman in a white admiral’s uniform. With maybe the jacket undone. Oh, my.

<Wipes drool> No, Diane, I’ll be negotiating the contract myself, thanks.

Allysha? What about her? Oh, yes, the leading lady. I suppose ‘who cares’ doesn’t work? Oh, all right, then.

She’s about 30, a very smart systems engineer, height about 5’ 6” (168cm). She has unusual green eyes, creamy skin and long, dark hair with a reddish tinge. Sounds a bit Irish, really. Katy Holmes sort of works with my mental image. Allysha’s eyes are different. Like this.

as though she doesn’t have a pupil.

And last but not least, Sean O’Reilly, Allysha’s womanising, estrangeHugh Grant as Seand husband. Well, he strikes me as something of a Hugh Grant, or at least, the types of characters that Hugh Grant so often plays. Think ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’. Except in my mind’s eye, Sean has blond hair. <shrugs> Just some peroxide.


For more casting couch fun, come and join me when I fit faces to names for ‘Morgan’s Choice’, coming soon.


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 27 February 2011, in Iron Admiral, On writing, Science fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I love your choices! I work the same way – my characters start by talking, and most of them get “seen” first through the MCs eyes. I find out what they look like as I go.

    Be sure to let us know when Iron Admiral comes out in print!

    • Yes, that’s how it works for me, too. The problem I have with actors is that’s what they LOOK like, not what they ARE in character. And let’s face it, the characterisation is much more important than appearance.

  2. You may be negotiating the contract but Ima gonna be there taking notes, dotting the i’s, crossing the t’s and whatever else I can get my hands on … um, yes, well, carry on.

  3. Well, ladies, you’re welcome to this bunch – not my cup of tea at all, I’m afraid, so all the more to share amongst yourselves. Find something slightly more rugged, definitely more hairy and I may well don the boxing gloves and fight you for ’em.

    I hardly ever know what my characters look like. I may see a glimpse of them – their hair, a hand, a smile, a laugh… but I never see them whole. Maybe I don’t think in pictures? Certainly not in complete ones. It’s interesting actually as I see from FB posts how many (of the female) writers do use these photo inspirations… wonder if any male writers do same?

    It’d be interesting too, to see where those who like visual prompts score on the visual/auditory/kinsthetic learning styles testing thing. I was always ‘kinsthetic’ more than anything else… maybe there’s something in that?

  4. What a fabulous blog idea. Thanks Greta. I loved this post!

  5. Very good post and it got me thinking about my own characters and who I’d want to play them. Hmmm…I’ll have to go drool over some hunky pictures. Such torture:))))

  6. I love akshay kumar! He’s one of my favs. 🙂 By the way, check out John Abraham too for another hottie with similar features. Sigh…

  7. I love Ashkay for the Admiral, can I marry him? I do think he looks a tad young though. As I recall the Admiral is a bit shy about his manliness, and this guy seems to like to rip his shirt off. And, Hugh Grant is PERFECT for the womanizer, love it! Still have to read the sequel!

    • Things have changed a little since you read it, Karen.

      Your point about Saahren’s ‘shyness’ is valid. And that’s where you hit problems with actors. That’s what he kinda looks like – but the important part is character, right?

  8. You know, for some characters, I write the way you do, Greta. I simply hear their voice and go from there. But for the most part, I’m one of those who finds photos inspirational.

    For Ask Me if I’m Happy, there were several people – actors, a singer, a few people I actually know – who I could have cast as Davide if I needed to. Emily, however, never quite materialized for me. There are several actresses who are *almost* right, but not exactly perfect, for that “role”, so I had several photos of different individuals to consider.

    For my WiP, the lead female, Abby, has a certain look I’ve not found in any actress yet. However, there was a model in a particular series of stock photos who suited the role. Federico has one definite source of inspiration in cyclist Fabian Cancellara, but the character doesn’t look *exactly* like him, either. Sometimes – if only in my mind – he also resembles Daniele Bennati (another cyclist), or various and sundry others. But if you did a police sketch of him as he’s described in the story, you’d get a totally different image.

    I’ve always used pictures because I find many of my stories are triggered by images – I see something, am compelled to write it down, and it all goes on from there. So I return to those initial images from time to time to recapture the memory or the feel of that first burst of inspiration.

    Meh. It works for me, is all I’m saying.

  9. Hi Greta,

    Congratulation on your contract!

    My character talk to me too, but on my book Windswept I had a better idea of what they looked like before I started writing. The cover hits the mark almost perfectly, except Seth is a lot taller than Megan, and Megan’s hair is shorter and redder.

    Usually I have to get the name right first or my characters won’t talk to me other than to say, “No that’s not my name. I’m not working with you until you get it right, woman.”


  1. Pingback: Back to the casting couch | Greta van der Rol – Author

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