by Shelt Garner
One of the thing I’m really focused on right now is developing character. I have canon and plot, but squat when it comes to character. I am struggling to figure out the motivation of individual characters.
I’ve decided to think back to my time in Seoul’s expat scene in the 2006-2008 time frame. I met a number of pretty colorful people at that time — one of them being myself — and I’m using my extremely romanticized memory of these people as the basis of a number of the novel’s central characters.
One of those central characters is based on a very unique woman I knew in Seoul named Annie Shapiro. She’s tragically dead now, but in life, she dramatically changed my life.
Ms. Shapiro was my Fleabag.
In fact, I would go so far as to say if Ms. Waller-Bridge wanted a follow-up to Fleabag, she should do a novel based on the life of Annie Shapiro. The two women kind of look a like, though Shapiro was younger than Waller-Bridge when she died.
Anyway, I’m inspired by what I remember of Shapiro as the basis of my heroine’s character. Shapiro was both my Fleabag and my manic pixie dream girl. So, my heroine is very much in the Fleabag – manic pixie dreamgirl spectrum if you shoved her into a vat of Lisbeth Salander. I like the idea that my heroine, but for events out of her control, would be a focused manic pixie dreamgirl with a very dark side.
The reason why Shapiro was so crucial in my life was she introduced me to a world I would otherwise never have experience. Of course, my actual life in that world was a complete disaster. It was all my fault. But I have all these memories from my time in Seoul that I can tap into.
I’m really focused on character, character, character. I don’t have forever, so I hope to start writing again around May 1st. But I’m going to think a lot in advance of that.
But the key thing is I really find a lot of inspiration in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s honesty with Fleabag.