I needed to take my kids to the doctor last week and while we were sitting in the waiting room, a good looking young guy walked in to pick up a referral. He made me sit up and take notice because he looked just like my idea of one of the heroes in the book I've just finished revising and re-writing. It's very rare that I come across people who are dead-ringers for my characters. For anybody who has seen my "Quenarden" covers, my hubby and I actually went to one of the local schools to snap photos of any young teens who might be interested in being on a cover. Although the people we ended up asking looked close to the characters I had in mind, they weren't carbon copies like this fellow.
The young man I saw looked like a character named Piers from my new one, "The Risky Way Home." He was tall and slim with dark, shaggy curls and in his early twenties. As he breezed out with his referral I considered getting up and chasing him down the road to ask, "Excuse me, would you like to be on the cover of a book?" But I chickened out. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And I could imagine the embarrassment my kids, especially my oldest son, would display if I did such a thing. Yet I couldn't help wondering if I'd let a serendipitous opportunity slip by.
My daughter asked later, "What do you think he would've said?" and I told her, "I honestly don't know. It's not the sort of situation people find themselves in often, if ever." He'd possibly would have been flattered but I couldn't do it. I'm the girl who came second to bottom on the extroversion-intraversion test we all had to do in Psychology at Uni (meaning I was way down on the introversion side). If my husband had been with us I might've asked him to do it. I clearly remember an occasion when I'd just met Andrew and we were having a country walk together. There was an artist set up with his easel along the side of the road. I'd have normally just smiled hello and walked on, but Andrew insisted that we go over to see what he was painting. Even though this was about 17 years ago, I remember how Andrew told the guy, "I always thought I'd like to be an artist," to which the man replied, "Oh, you like to starve, do you?" But I wished I had the courage to approach interesting strangers with such ease and lack of restraint.
In this particular incident, the only thing that makes me not too disappointed is that this time, our intention is to veer away from people in the pictures and do something different anyway, which I won't say much about because when we have something to show, I'll show it instead. But if this young guy had been asked and agreed, I might've considered changing my mind.