Conversations with characters

Author, Charles French, asks “which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.”

You can read Charles choices here: https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.com/2021/05/05/conversations-with-characters/

Upon reflection, I would not choose a mythical character from a fantasy novel to invite around for tea and a chat. My choices would be characters who have gone through personal trauma and experience growth and personal development as a result. I think my choices would reflect the elements of fictional novels that interest me the most: What makes the character tick? Why did the character make the choices or decisions he/she made? Were their choices and attitudes influenced by their background?

The first character I would like to chat to would be Van Helsing from Dracula. I would want to know more about his background and his Catholic faith and how his respect for the ancient customs and belief in superstitions and folk remedies fitted with his enthusiasm for modern medicine and understanding of the importance of science for the future of mankind. I would also want to know what he knew about vampires and how he came by this information.

Van Helsing 1931.png
Picture from Wikipedia – Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing in Dracula (1931)
Picture from Wikipedia – Peter Cushing as Van Helsing in The Brides of Dracula

My second choice of character would be Oom Schalk Lourens from Herman Charles Bosman’s The Complete Voorkamer Stories. Given the difficulties I experienced with researching certain aspects of the lives of the Boers before, during, and after the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa, I would love to chat to Oom Schalk and learn more about his life, especially during this war.

The Complete Voorkamer Stories Kindle Edition

One of the most moving concepts for me in this book related to Oom Schalk’s comments about his wife going into a concentration camp with their two children and coming out alone. I would like to learn more about both of their experiences, living conditions, and emotions. I would be interested in the small details relating to their lives that are so difficult to discover through research.

You can learn more about Herman Charles Bosman and his books here: https://www.amazon.com/Herman-Charles-Bosman/e/B001JS25GO

My thoughts about chatting to characters are that if the author has done a good job of showing the emotions of the characters and explaining the circumstances of the story and how the entire story lines comes together, there isn’t that much I would need to chat to the characters about.

Having tea with an author now, well that is something entirely different. There are dozens of authors I would love to talk to about their ideas and delve into the greater meanings of their storylines and underlying messages and meanings.

Do you have any characters you would like to chat to? Why? Let me know in the comments.

38 thoughts on “Conversations with characters

  1. You picked awesome characters. I would choose Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House. I’d like to know how much of the events in the house were her doing. I’d bring a hard hat, though, in case she sends a rock shower down on me!

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  2. You picked some good characters, Robbie. I don’t know who I’d pick, but I’m I will be thinking about;)

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  3. This was a thoughtful and very interesting post, Robbie. Your choices are terrific, especially Oom. I need to read the book. I like how you clarified dining with a character vs a conversation with a character. You make an excellent point. I replied on Charles’ blog, and I’d like to clarify that Teddy the dog is not a childish character. He is quite serious, on the level of an adult.

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  4. That’s a difficult question Robbie, but your choices are well thought-out. I like the suggestion of Don Quixote. But I would need more than a few days to come up with a definitive answer. (K)

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  5. I would be interested in having a conversation with Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye to see if he turned into as big a phony as the adults he abhorred as a teen.

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  6. I love this. There are many characters I would love to have a conversation with. Like Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She would be delightful to chat with. And Jo March from Little Women, Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice and Anne Frank. The list could go on and on.

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  7. I like that you would choose characters to further your research. You are right that we could learn more from such conversations than through many research resources.

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    1. Hi Norah, I find it easy to research facts but some everyday things are quite difficult. For example, I found it difficult to discover exactly what the Boer women wore when they trekked. I actually found this information on a board at the Voortrekker monument museum we visited recently and I took pictures of everything available. PS Your books have arrived at last.

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      1. Our mobile phones make it so easy to record information, don’t they? It’s great to make use of the functions.
        I’m pleased the books have made their way to you. The anthology is on its way too. I hope it is not far behind.

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      1. I guess that’s the same with a lot of older books unless there’s a huge demand. I shall see what our local second-hand book stores have to offer.

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  8. Robbie, great, thought-provoking posts by you and Charles French! Your choices are very interesting and explained well. One of the characters I’d like to converse with is Jane Eyre — smart, brave, stoic, resilient, principled, and feminist (for her time).

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    1. Hi Dave, Jane Eyre is definitely a good choice. It would interesting to find out what she thought about Rochester being blinded and becoming fairly dependent on her. I would also want to know if she thought he really tried to save his wife given how he felt about her and that he was tricked into marrying her [through his eyes].

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      1. Robbie, it would indeed be interesting to find out Jane’s thoughts on Rochester being grievously hurt. I suppose the “silver lining” in that situation was that it put the relationship between him and Jane on a more equal footing. Also a legitimate question about whether Rochester — not the most altruistic, self-sacrificing of men — 100% tried to save his wife. (As you know, Jean Rhys’ “Jane Eyre” prequel “Wide Sargasso Sea” got into the dynamics of that relationship quite a bit.)

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      2. I have not read Wide Sargasso Sea, another book for my pile. It’s going to fall over and rush me soon [smile]. Jane Eyre was a book that just captured my imagination – the idea of the mad wild women locked up in the attic. It was the same with She, the scene at the end when the magic reverses haunted me – it still does.

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      3. I know what you mean about to-read piles that are threatening to topple over! 🙂 😦

        Yes, amid the coming-of-age, romantic, and other elements of “Jane Eyre,” it was kind of an eerie Gothic novel, too. And that “She” scene was indeed amazing!

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