Better Living Through Characters

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Cassondra’s post on classic cars last week got me thinking about how often I’ve given my characters things I’d like to have for myself.  I read an article about the late Dorothy L. Sayers, creator of Lord Peter Wimsey (and wouldn’t it be great to create a character who would outlive you by decades?) saying she gave Lord Peter an Aubusson carpet because she couldn’t afford one.  He collected incunabulae,  or antique books, for the same reason.

This struck me as a great idea.  My fantasy characters all had broadswords.  One had a quarterstaff (inspired by the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie).  They also had a mountain lair that, like Shangri-La, was hidden from all except those their sentries chose to admit.  They all had horses–naturally, this being a traditional, or pre-industrial, fantasy world.  They even had a bear in residence.

I love bears, but I would never risk an up close and personal chat with an unrestrained one.  And I suspect I’d bang my fingers a lot if I tried sparring with a quarterstaff.  With a sword . . . you know, let’s not even go there.

But giving them all those things was fun, so I started making a conscious effort to give the characters things I figured I could never afford. As Sayers had done.

My Restoration characters had grand manors full of finely crafted period furnishings.  Two had castles–ruined, alas.  They wore silk, velvet, satin and lace.  Though I avoided putting the men in the height of Restoration fashion, with the petticoat breeches, loose vests, floppy shirts, long, flowing wigs, and yards of lace.  Really, some styles deserve to be outdated.

The men also had swords, of course, but they carried triangular-bladed smallswords in keeping with the period.  The Metropolitan Museum in New York has an elegant assortment of those on display.   The hero of one book had a plantation in Jamaica.  Another owned his own ship, which he allowed the Royal Navy to use–with him as captain, of course.

I’ve never been out on open water, but I’m curious about it.  And I love dressing up in gorgeous clothes, though I rarely have the chance.

The heroine of my first contemporary had a cabin on a lake and regularly went out in her canoe.  Which she (unlike me) actually could paddle and steer where she wanted it to go.  The hero of that book lived in a loft in a converted warehouse.  He had new, modern furniture, the kind I love to look at, while hers tended to be old and overstuffed and comfy, the kind I prefer to sit on.  She also had a bulletproof vest, seeing as how she was a cop, and a gun.  Both hero and heroine had psi powers, which I’ve always loved thinking about.  Well, maybe not always. But at least since I encountered Saturn Girl, the telepath of the Legion of Super-Heroes, in a DC comic book when I was seven.

The hero of my romantic suspense novel owns a flat in London and numerous other homes, all furnished beautifully, an assortment of classic and modern cars, scads of family heirlooms, and a hand-tailored wardrobe.  The heroine owns knife-proof leathers, a small arsenal, and an attitude I wish I could wear every day.

In various other projects, I have characters who are gourmet cooks, FBI agents, successful artists, and musicians, all things I’d love to do if I could do them well. When I’m in their heads, I am doing those things well.

The same thing applies when I’m reading other people’s books or watching TV or movies.  Given the chance, would I actually opt to be aboard a starship conducting evasive maneuvers at warp 9 while taking fire?  Would I kick in the door (as Eve Dallas and the cops of Southland and Castle routinely do) and possibly run into a hail of bullets from the bad guys on the other side?  Would I actually pace the dueling ground with Sebastian St. Cyr?

Hmmm.  No.

But I can enjoy watching characters who can cope with such a situation and do it superbly.

Who says vicarious living isn’t satisfying?

What about you?  What do you enjoy watching or reading about that you would never want to do in real life?  Is there something you enjoy watching or reading about that you would do “for real,” if you could work up just a little more nerve?  Or do you prefer movies, TV and books that are closer to your actual life?


I have a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card for one commenter today as the treat.  The trick . . . what?  Oh, sorry.  Demetrius informs mere there’s a problem with the trick, but we’ll have it straightened out by midnight.

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter–that list is the basis of the Kindle drawing–and the Members Den, where goodies will change regularly.  Anna Sugden and Beth Andrews are hard at work on our first ever bandita newsletter, and we’d hate for you to miss it!




  • Kaelee says:

    Is the GR staying with me?

    • Kaelee, I thought I was joking about the Maple Leaf tatt on the Rooster! I thought I heard him humming O, Canada the other day. Didn’t make much of it. Maybe I should!

      • Kaelee says:

        Hi Anna, I think the GR eats a lot more Tim Tams than maple sugar candy. He told me that Helen treats him like a king. He also told me it was too cold here so I thought I would give him a taste of frost tonight. I’ll let him loose tomorrow as I won’t be up so late.

        • Helen says:

          I do love peace and harmony so I tend to give into him a lot although he can get his feathers in a bit of a ruffle when all the grandkids are here LOL.

          Although we are heading into summer here is has been cool and raining for the last couple of days just the way I like it LOL

          Have Fun with him


    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Kaelee, congrats on the bird! Helen confirms she gives him a lot of leeway when he’s there, I see, but y’all do know he lies, right? Tried to tell me Aunty Cindy took him to the beach and kept him supplied with daiquiris all day, and I just flat know that isn’t true!

      • He said WHAT?!?!?!
        The only one who gets daiquaris on the beach is MOI! And I actually prefer Mai Tais. 😉

        Nope, can’t believe anything that comes outta that rascal’s beak!


  • Nancy, what a great post. Ain’t it the truth? I absolutely adore wonderful old houses and the wonderful furniture and bric a brac that fill them. And you’ll notice, every hero has a library! I really WANT a library! And sea views seem to proliferate. I WANT a sea view! And my heroines wear gorgeous dresses and get to melt into the hero’s arms. Hey, nothing vicarious in that. Snicker!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Anna, thanks! All my heroes have libraries, too. Though not ones so impressive as Lord Peter’s. I perfectly understand your heroines’ melting–you create such fabulous heroes, who melt inside for your terrific heroines. After you put them both through, and the reader, through a freaking wringer. *sigh*

      Next time you’re in this part of the world, we should go to Biltmore, in the NC mountains. It has a gorgeous library. It was the estate if one of the Vanderbilts but is now owned by a branch of the Cecils. Yes, the descendants of Elizabeth I’s Lord Burleigh.

      • Wow, Nancy, I’d LOVE to see Biltmore. I remember Stephanie Laurens telling me about visiting (and staying on the grounds – apparently there are cottages you can rent that give you free run of the place, sigh). How’s that for name dropping, by the way? Did you know the house in MY RECKLESS SURRENDER was based on Burleigh House which was the original Cecil pile in the Midlands? Links everywhere! And thank you for saying such nice things about my heroes – nah, absolutely nothing vicarious going on there. Nothing to see. Move on. Move on. Snigger.

  • donnas says:

    The characters that can live absolutely anywhere. They are comfortable in a tent in the woods or a penthouse in the city. I am not nearly that adaptable but like to pretend. Also the ones that are really strong and kick ass characters that can totally handle any situation

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Donnas, I’m not that adaptable, either. I went camping once, and it was fine. I mainly enjoyed it because of the people with me, so I’ve never seen the need to invest in all the gear. Much as I love to dress up, I have limited tolerance for entertaining or going to parties. Once in a while is great, but I need burrowing time in between.

  • Barb says:

    Well done Kaelee…. looks loke we had better pull our finger out Anna as he will get really thin without the tim tams….. had turkish delight ones the other day….Yummy

    great post Nancy … I love watching shows that show you derelict houses and see what the buyers make of them… would never want to do it myself …too old for that … I love reading about things that I wou;d never be able to have

  • Kaelee says:

    Hi Nancy ~ After I got the GR, I went back to watching my fantasy show ~ Dancing with the Stars. I would love to be able to dance like that and have the figure to wear some of those outfits. Not to mention that some of the professional male dancers could give the gladiators a run for their money.

    A Library A Library Oh wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Library in my house. Could mine have a window through which I could watch sunrises and sunsets on majestic mountain peaks. My soul needs the mountains. The house I was born in had a kitchen window and I could watch the mountains all day from it. I think one of the best churches I ever saw was in Wyoming and the window behind the altar looked out on the Grand Tetons.

    I travel all over the world and through the centuries when I read. I love reading about new places and then looking them up on the internet. Not as good as getting to them in person but I can dream about them. I’m a little bug eyed here so I’m hoping I’m making sense. Here’s to a great imagination for everyone.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Kaelee, what a beautiful picture you paint of your fantasy library! The dh’s brother lives in the Colorado Front Range. The kitchen window of their house looks out on mountains, and it’s a great view.

      I’ve always traveled through books, like you. They’re a great escape.

    • When my sister used to live in Tacoma, her kitchen window had a view of Mt. Rainier.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Oh, by the way, Kaelee, Demetrius informs me Marcus is in a snit because of your comment about gladiators.

      Who knew Marcus read the blog?

  • Annie West says:

    Nancy, I loved this post. Of COURSE I give my characters possessions and traits I don’t have. Otherwise I fear my readers might get just a tad bored. As I write for a line that’s renowned for exotic locations and glamour as well as intense passion, I freely borrow from elsewhere when it comes to the glam. I’m sitting here in old jeans, cardie and warm slippers – a far cry from the elegant outfits some of my heroines get to wear!

    I wish I could give my hero a broadsword too. That would be so cool. I’m starting a new book and he’s a tough as nails bodyguard who’ll become sheikh. Perhaps he can have a scimitar? Now that would be interesting.

    Thanks for sharing the story about Dorothy Sayers and Lord Peter. I hadn’t realised that. Love those stories, by the way.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Annie, thank you! I loved the Lord Peter mysteries, too, though I think it’s lucky I read Strong Poison first. He’s a tad silly for me in the first two. Once I read them all and loved them, though, I went on the hunt for info about Sayers and got copies of the shorts from the London Spectator through interlibrary loan.

      The actors who played him on PBS were fine actors, but neither looked, to me, like the Lord Peter of the books. The actor closest to him, to me, is Nigel Havers, Lord Lindsay in Chariots of Fire.

      The exotic locations in your books would be a fun playground. I love the idea of a scimitar.

      • Annie West says:


        I must say I rather enjoyed the actor with the ski jump nose who played him in one of the BBC TV series. He did seem Wimseyish though he didn’t necessarily look the part.

        There are some excellent stories and so well written. I have vivid memories of rereading ‘The Nine Tailors’ (not my fave but very atmospheric) in the wee hours while sitting up with a newborn. Brr – it gave me the shivers.

      • Nancy, you’re so right about Nigel Havers. I hadn’t thought about it before but he would have made a wonderful Sir Peter. Speaking of Burghley House, did you know the Marquess of Exeter who owned it mid-century was the real-life model for the champagne hurdles guy from Chariots of Fire? The guy Nigel Havers played so beautifully in the film. When you go to the house, they have photos of him training with the champagne glasses and a display case with his Olympic gold medals. Pretty impressive, huh?

    • Annie, great to see you! Isn’t the new lair swish? You know, I’d NEVAH picked up you living vicariously in your books either. I thought you described life as it was lived chez West! Snigger again. Hmm, I seem to be doing a lot of sniggering. People will start calling me Mutley (did you guys get Wacky Races over there?).

  • Jane says:

    I love watching crime shows and it’s exciting when the cops/agents go on raids and interrogate and intimidate suspects and informants, but I don’t think I can handle the drama and danger in real life.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Jane, I don’t think I’d like that kind of stressful life, either. I’m deeply grateful to those who do these jobs, but I’d be lousy at it. I do love watching SWAT and other action-heavy dramas, though.

  • Hi Nancy!

    I live vicariously through my characters too. They drive cool cars, including a Land Rover Defender and have great clothes (that they can fit in…). My hero is a math whiz, something I’ll never be. My heroine sews like a dream. I get intimidated by zippers.

    Congrats on the GR, Kaelee!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Hi, Jennifer–I used to sew, and zippers are tough. One of the last things I made was a bridesmaid dress. The zipper was okay but not great. I consoled myself with the thought no one would be looking at my back. And the bride and groom looked great!

      A math whiz, huh? I’m terrible at higher math. Anything that smacks of algebra, and never mind sines and cosines, puts my brain on “tilt.”

  • Fedora says:

    Hi, Nancy! My reading’s all about vicarious living–the characters are, do, say, and behave in ways I often could never imagine myself doing, but I get to without the consequences 😉 How fun 😀

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Fedora, the “no consequences” bit is great, isn’t it? A hero (or heroine) can drive like a demon yet never crash. 🙂

  • Pearl says:

    I enjoy living through the characters and their trials and tribulations. this makes reading a unique experience which I treasure.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Pearl, it’s nice to see the trials and tribulations resolve without enduring them personally, isn’t it? It’s kind of like what I’ve heard people say about grandchildren–you enjoy then until you get tired of them, and then you send them home. If a book or TV show gets too intense, you can do something else for a while.

  • Anne says:

    Characters whose lives are fascinating and yet driven personalities always make the reading experience captivating and unforgettable.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Anne, you make a great point. If I don’t care about the characters, all the other stuff isn’t enough to pull me in, no matter how great it is.

  • Helen says:


    Great post I love historical romances for all the great houses and furniture and the clothes, things that I would never have LOL and I love a good suspense with murders and guns and bombs I would be soo scared though if this happened to me LOL.
    One of the best reasons for reading is you can live the life you can only dream of and visit faraway places

    Have Fun

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Helen, I would also be too scared if I were faced with those situations. Since the majority of people in the historical periods I enjoy reading and writing about were not only commoners but poor, I don’t think I would enjoy life in those eras nearly as much as my characters do.

  • Virgina says:

    Like Helen I love reading and visiting a lot of different places but only in books and dreams. There is just a lot of things that happen in books that I just wouldn’t do in real life. I don’t think I could ever spend a night out west sleeping on the ground with snakes and wild animals around but its still fun to read about it and dream about it.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Virginia, you’ve hit on the main thing that bothers me about sleeping on the ground–the proximity to snakes. I hear that’s only a problem in cold weather, but I never like to trust my luck on that. But I like reading about people who have no such fear.

  • runner10 says:

    I love watching Dancing With The Stars. I would love to try ballroom dancing.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      I would love to try ballroom dancing, too. I’m not light on my feet, but I’d love to give it a shot.

  • Deb Marlowe says:

    So true, Nancy! Don’t we all love it when books take us places we want to go? You know, those broadswords have got to be heavy and cumbersome in real life, but they are so danged *cool!* What’s not to love about a guy that carries one around like it’s an iphone? 🙂

    I’ve made my characters all sorts of things that interest me, like designers and antiquities hunters. Next year I have a heroine who is uber organized. Talk about a fantasy!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Deb, I’ve never been super-organized. I can fake it for a while, but I always cave in the end.

      I guess people must’ve gotten used to the drag of a broadsword at the waist, but it does look awkward.

  • Di R says:

    I love it when a book allows me to be, or experience anything far outside my normal life.

    My current wip is a regency historical, but I for one know I am very grateful for indoor plumbing and modern medicine.

    Fun blog, Nancy!


    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Di, I’m also fond of indoor plumbing. And antibiotics!

      I do love the Regency clothes, though.

  • Gail Nichols says:

    I love reading books and living vicariously through the characters. As for shows I watch,as a young girl I always wanted to be “Wonder Woman”.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Gail, I wanted to be Wonder Woman, too. The bullet-repelling bracelets, the magic lasso, the plane . . . Steve Trevor. *g*

    • KJ Howe says:

      Gail Nichols, you are the winner of Monday’s Beginnings and Endings Barnes and Noble gift certificate!!! If you could please send your address to me at, I would be thrilled to send you the prize. Thanks!!!

  • eilis flynn says:

    Great topic. I’ve always considered the environment of my books to be unique to each book (another world? Notice I never talked about the plumbing issues in THE SLEEPER AWAKES?), with pros and cons. But I’ve always wished I could punch people who deserve it. But it would hurt my hand too much. (How do superheroes do it and keep their hands intact?)(For that matter, do they ever develop carpal tunnel, and how do they fight crime when their hands hurt even when they punch people?) I can build a library, sure, but plumbing and physical issues … there’s a reason I read/write, and why we all do: To live vicariously through them!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Eilis, these are all very good questions. In the movie Dead Again (a terrific thriller), Kenneth Branagh punched someone and complained mightily about the pain in his hand afterward.

      I figure there’s a reason gloves are required in kickboxing and hand pads in karate.

  • Mozette says:

    Quite a few of my characters I write about don’t have any medical issues; and if they have, they’ve been somehow cured of it. You see, Ladies, I’m Epileptic – and an incurable one at that. I have had all the tests for surgery and am not a candidate, they tried out all the drugs and have found that the smallest amounts of the most unusual drugs work on me. However, I have found that a mix of those drugs and a very, very healthy lifestyle work a treat!

    So, when I write a book/story/novella, my characters have the worse eating habits, are out until dawn (or don’t sleep for a few days) and can work themselves into the ground; or until they fall down at work…. something I used to be able to do. Now, if I did, I’d burn out and take a massive seizure. My characters also have the similar abilities to the people out of ‘The Matrix’ where you can be programmed to do pretty much anything because they have a chip inside their heads that have a massive memory to hold large amounts of info…pretty cool, eh? And yes, my characters are Bounty Hunters or Spies with a great sex life – with each other! 😉

    What they can do that I can’t is travel through space and work an Earth-built spacecraft, a woman can fight like, shoot like, and talk like a man; and be as charming and sweet as any female around. And yet, all of my characters can handle any kind of fire arms laid out in front of them at any one time quite happily…. something I’d love to learn to do. 😀 It’s just the rebel in me. 😉

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Mozette, I’m glad you’ve found a strategy for managing your epilsepsy. I love the way you described your characters’ habits and skills. I’d love to be able to do those things, too. Even if I had the ability, though, I’d lack the nerve for a lot of it.

      • Mozette says:

        Oh, not me, Nancy. I’m an opportunist. If I see something that looks good and will be good for me (which does sound very selfish; but hear me out), I’ll jump at it. I’ll also do the same thing if I see something for my family too.

        So, if the opportunity arose where I could take on this kind of life; and succeed in being this kind of person ( and have fun being the kind of character I’ve created in my books), I’d jump at it just for the fun of it. 🙂 This is why I write the books I do. 😀

  • What a cool post, Nancy. And it got me to thinking. I do a lot of the same thing. In my upcoming trilogy from Harlequin American, I have three brothers whose family own a big guest ranch in the Hill Country of Texas. Last year, I had a book out where the big family ranch was near Cody, Wyoming. I love it out West, and I think that shines through in a lot of my stories.

    My YA series coming out next year has a main character who is a witch, and we’re talking a witch with superpowers. Sometimes it would be awesome to have power at your fingertips like that, as long as it was used for good.

    A couple of my earlier books were set in a fictional Gulf Coast town because I love it down there and wish I could live there. Maybe someday.

  • CrystalGB says:

    When I am reading and the heroine kicks butt I love it. I could never fight or do the things that some of the heroines do in the books I read.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Crystal, I enjoyed my karate classes, but I didn’t get to the level of free sparring. I’m not sure how I would’ve liked that. Watching the boy do it was agonizing even though he did well.

      As for a real fight . . . No, thanks!

  • Jeanne Miro says:

    I don’t just enjoy but rather love reading historical romance. On reason is I always picture myself as one of the stunning debutantes (or when I’m being more realistic as a dowager countess – note dowager) but in reality realize I don’t fit the “model” – let me list the ways: Too short , no bust or cleveage, too outspoken, asks too many questions, rarely follows the rules and usually ignores a man’s suggestions (just ask my husband).

    On the other hand I could see myself being a teacher or chaperone but unlike the ones in most books I’d tell my students or charge like it realy was and probably would end up having parents coming in droves to get those poor young misses away from my influence! On the other hand I do like my heroines fiesty and I love humor and a whitty maiden aunt or two. Most of all I want to be surprised, entertained and a great love story filled with intrigue, disappointment, challenges overcome, fights, misunderstanding, and an undying love that conquers all.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Jeanne, isn’t ignoring male suggestions our traditional prerogative?*g*

      The type of teacher or maiden aunt you describe would be a wonderful character in a book. Your comment reminds me of something I read, I thinkin Jayne Anne Krentz’s Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women. She said readers want to fall in love with the hero and identify with the heroine. That describes me pretty well, as both reader and writer.

  • Great post, Nancy! In my imaginary life, I’m taller, younger, nicer, smarter … so that’s why my protagonist, Brooklyn, is all those things! She also lives where I want to live and works in a field I would love to work in. She eats chocolate and drinks wine and never–okay, *rarely* has a hangover or a migraine. 😉

    She’s also teaching herself how to cook and will probably start taking self-defense classes of some sort because she keeps finding dead bodies and is subsequently threatened by murderers! Guess I’d better look into taking some kickboxing classes. Okay, that might not happen!

    And she’s also got the world’s hottest boyfriend. Have I mentioned that I want to be her?!! LOL

    Congrats on snagging the GR, Kaelee!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Kate, thanks! You know I love Brooklyn and Derek. The book restoration part of the series is one thing that appeals to me. But you know, I have to admit I don’t get the whole chocolate and wine thing. I know it’s hugely popular, and I do like champagne and chocolate, but regular wine and chocolate just don’t grab me as a pair. Maybe I need to go up the brand scale to find a combo that works?

      When will we see Brooklyn and Derek again?

      • Pat Cochran says:

        One of my nieces love wine and chocolate – for her b’day
        we went to a wine shop. We found a super combination
        that we gave her. I don’t remember the brand name, but
        it contained chocolate and a red wine. I asked her how
        it had tasted but she hasn’t gotten to this bottle as yet.
        Seems several friends also gave her wine for the big day
        and she’s trying to space them out, not drink them all at

        Pat C.

  • Kirsten says:

    I like to watch vampire shows now that halloween is getting closer, but boy am I glad I don’t know a real vamp. All that biting and the constant fights… not really my thing.

    I really love everything historical & I could totally see myself living a 100 years ago or more. But ONLY as a Lady of leisure, so that I could enjoy the clothes, jewelry, parties and handsome men with titles & massive uhm mansions…

    Dreaming of those things is great & it doesn’t have anything to do with what I want in real life. For I don’t care about money or status that much. I just long for a hea & if the hero of my future story turns out to be poor but with a heart of gold, I’d take him 😀

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Kirsten, I agree about living in the past only if I could have the fun stuff. Otherwise, life would be an arduous struggle.

      I hope you find your Mr. Right.

  • Nancy said: Unfortunately, we’ve discovered a glitch in the site. Those who signed up for the newsletter directly, via the homepage link, and not through the Members Den link apparently did not wind up with Members Den access. At least, it looks as if this may be the case. So if this is you, we apologize for the inconvenience, but you’ll need to go into the Members Den and sign up again to gain access to the content posted there. We appreciate your patience while we find and work out the kinks around our new home.

    It won’t give me a password to get into the Member’s Den. I have tried registering under two different e-mail addresses and it won’t send me a password. 🙁

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Dianna, I’m so sorry! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll pass this along to our web gurus.

      I agree about reading as an escape. For me, it always has been.

    • Dianna, please e-mail me privately at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com. I have a question about your problem with access to the Members Den.

  • TrishJ says:

    I am such a timid old sole, I don’t try many new outrageous things. But I definitely want my H/H to be faster than a speeding bullet and leap buildings in a single jump. The places they go, houses they live in, (sigh) that’s why i love to read.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Trish, I’ve never been much for trying outrageous things, either. I do enjoy reading about people who have more nerve, though.

  • I love all of the above, living different places/time periods. Having lovely possessions, talents and abilities I will never have. Reading is an escape that takes me far, far away.

  • KJ Howe says:

    Nancy, I love writing thrillers so I can have a handy excuse to go out and try new things–like shooting guns, tactical training, riding camels and other adventures. Of course, my characters are the ones that take the real risks! 🙂

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      KJ, we all love hearing about your adventures. I have to admit I probably would’ve stood on the ground and waved bye-bye if I’d been there when you set off on the camel!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    As someone who loves reading and writing romantic suspense, I can safely say the characters do stuff that I find interesting, but wouldn’t want to do myself. I’d love some of the skills (and of course, the figure, the cool shoes etc), but not necessarily the jobs!

    On the other hand, hanging out with the hockey players of my contemporary novels is something I’d be more than happy to experience! 😉

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Anna, why am I not surprised your characters have cool shoes?

      Let us know if that hockey evening ever comes to pass!

  • Minna says:

    I love watching Castle and Numb3rs and reading in Death books, but I would never want to do any of that stuff for real!

  • p226 says:

    About the only thing I enjoy watching and reading about that I can’t actually do is race cars. Well… ok, I probably *could* race cars, but at a very low level and at extraordinary expense. This is why I roadraced motorcycles. The expense was lower, which of course was a tradeoff for the higher danger levels.

    It’s ok though. Dragging a knee at 100+mph is enough of a taste of racing to … ok, fine, I’ll be honest. It’s enough of a taste of racing to make you want to sell your house, your car, your family, your friends, and anything else you can get your mitts around to finance racing. There’s a saying. “Road racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty.” I’m just not willing to sell my family. Yet.

    Where does this lead back to the question? Formula1. I would give anything to be at the pinnacle of motorsports. Driving multi-million dollar cars at the edge of technology, traction, and control. If I met a fiery end against the armco at Monaco? Worth it.

    The other thing I wish I could do, but will never have a shot at is flying a fighter jet. (there’s a speed theme developing, I think). What a rush. Push the throttles forward… gather speed… ease the elevators up… listen for the thunk of the landing gear locking up… throw the throttles into afterburner and stand that magnificent bird on its tail. A few second later I’d be looking “up” through my canopy at the horizon, 15,000 feet below me and still falling away.

    What on this planet could be better?

    There’s currently an SU27 (4th generation Russian fighter) for sale in Arizona. $5,000,000. Which Bandita’s gonna float me a little loan?

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Oops–My reply landed in the wrong place, just a couple down from here. Sorry!

      • p226 says:

        I’ll respond here, though. Reportedly, the $5m includes the jet, technical data, and a Russian fighter pilot to train you on the platform. And if the State Department or FAA gets all whiny about me flying a Russian fighter around, well, I’ll just ship the thing to Panema or Columbia. I have people there. And my friends in Panema have as much airstrip access as I could possibly need.

        I have the same kind of people in Venezuela, but would avoid tapping them for … well … reasons. But any of those guys would give me perpetual hangar space in exchange for letting them fly the thing.

        See… I really do just need the $5mil. (haha, I said “just”)

        • Nancy Northcott says:

          Yes, “haha” on the just. If only!

          You seem to know some very interesting people.

          Let’s say we somehow come up with the $5 mil. I did not see a mechanic on the list of what comes with the plane. I believe you once indicated Mrs. P226 was good with engines. Can she maintain this plane? Just if we had the money and took this move?

          Would you fly intruder alert patrols over the Lair? I’m not sure we can trust the GR for that. Or would a motorcycle be more practical?

          I once saw the guys on Top Gear (British version) race a car with a fighter jet, and the jet won easily (no surprise), so I’m thinking it may not be the best vehicle for nabbing intruders. It might be prone to overshoot.

          • p226 says:

            The mechanic won’t be an issue. Russian aircraft mechanics work for vodka. Of course, the tradeoff for their cheap labor price is that they work while drinking it.

            As for using gladiators and SU27s for lair security… well… the FAA might frown if we start putting the weapons systems back on the jet. Just a guess. Besides, can you imagine one of them in an SU27? Tell me they wouldn’t just strafe the arena, lay waste to foe and spectator alike, and then just call in for a refuel and set a waypoint for Fiji. You know they would. I would.

            The gladiators can’t be trusted with flight on a chandelier, let alone $5mil worth of advanced fighter aircraft.

          • Nancy Northcott says:

            p226, these are all good points. Sorry I can’t respond below, but there appear to be limits to the “nesting” of comments the site allows.

            Anyway, the working for vodka thing would seem to be a risky way to handle a $5 million investment. As for the gladiators departing for Fiji, I think Demetrius had you in mind for doing the patrols. Since you also would depart for Fiji, however, you would seem to be a risky choice also.

            Hmm. You’re not helping your case here.

    • LOL P226 on the $5mil loan! We just moved into these fancy new digs, so loans are not on our horizon…

      But I’m afraid you’ve given the GR some ideas, and NOT of the legal variety. Don’t be surprised if he approaches you for help with purloining that jet!


    • Anna Sugden says:

      Hey P226 – hope you still have plans to come over here some day – either for the TT’s or to enjoy our F1 circuit.

      We bought our best man, a former rally driver, a day racing. They do pretty cool days out at Silverstone.

      • p226 says:

        I would absolutely love to catch MotoGP at Silverstone. However, the season just took on a really somber tone. RIP Super Sic. 🙁

    • Snort, P226, no spare cash in the lair. Have you seen how much those &^$$$#$# gladiators eat?

  • Karyn Gerrard says:

    Nancy, thanks about the glitch, I went to the Members den and signed up there~

    Oh definitely! Guess that’s why I wrote a time travel, LOL! I love to be taken on a journey either in TV, movies or books, an escape is a good thing! great post Nancy, it is fun to step into characters shoes for a while!

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Karyn, thanks! Glad you were able to sign up without a problem. We have to be sure it works smoothly for everyone. Are you also on the newsletter list?

      I love time travel stories, too. The fish out of water element can be played to great effect.

  • Nancy Northcott says:

    p226, yes, you have a definite speed theme going! I love the quote about motorcycle racing and heroin addiction.

    The plane sounds interesting. Demetrius might like it for Lair defense. I have to ask you, though, a variant of same thing I asked the boy when he was yearning over cars a few years back. What’s the point in getting it when you can’t fly it?

    The banditas, alas, are tapped out from financing the new Lair. There are rumors, however, that Tim Tams are not the only thing the GR has stashed. Maybe he could float you a loan if you let him fly the plane the next time you two go on maneuvers.

  • LURVE the post, Nancy.

    Yes, I like to read and write about BOOM! But not experience it firsthand.

    I do love to put my characters in some of the places I’ve visited, but the adventures are ALL THEIRS! I’m an observe and record kinda tourist, though I did get on a camel once in Tangiers. Hard to say which smelled worse… the camel or his handler!


    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Ya know, AC, you and KJ can just have the camels. I admire you both for mounting up, but it’s a looong way down, so I’ll stay on the ground.

      Plus there’s the whole, er, aroma thing.

      • LOL on the aroma, Nancy. Yes, it was… memorable. 😛

        As for a long way down, um not as far as that elephant I rode in Thailand! But he did smell a LOT better.


  • Beth Andrews says:

    Nancy, I love giving my characters items and talents I don’t have – I especially love dressing my characters! So much fun, especially in a trilogy like I’m working on now where the three sisters have such different tastes in clothing *g*

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Beth, I could get into the clothes thing. That would be fun. Even though I live in jeans and t-shirts, I could be a clothes horse, given the budget and a big enough closet.

    • Why does this not surprise me, Beth? I think you probably loved dressing Barbie as a kid, too, huh? I wonder if Tawny and Anna S spend a great deal of time looking at just the right shoes for their heroines to wear? 🙂

  • Cybercliper says:

    I love reading about time travel especially the modern gal goes back in time but I really wouldn’t want to do it. I’m kinda attached to my toothbrush, toilet paper, and air conditioning.

    The cabin in the woods away from the rest of the world SOUNDS good too until you have to use an outhouse in 20 degree weather 😀

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      I am so with you on the indoor plumbing thing! Also the toothbrush. I do love my modern conveniences.

  • gamistress66 says:

    I think you hit on the head there why I enjoy historicals & sci fi/fantasy/paranormal stories — living vicariously all those amazing things I’d like to be able to do in part because I know it’s not a possibility 😉 (don’t really want to be fighting aliens, demons or regency pop & circumstance — down right scary thought) 🙂

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Exactly! I just picked up the latest in a military science fiction series I’ve been reading. The characters are moving toward interstellar war, and the absolutely only way I want to experience that is vicariously!

  • Barbara Elness says:

    I definitely love to read about paranormal creatures that I’d run screaming from if I were to run across them in real life and space exploration, alien creatures and space ships that I’ll never see in my lifetime are really fun to read about.

  • catslady says:

    Pretty much everything I read are worlds and lives that I wouldn’t really want to live. Maybe that’s why contemporary reads are not my books of choice too often. I want historicals and paranormals and scifi and horror and suspense etc. lol.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Catslady, I also lean heavily toward settings unlike my real life. Including the ones that involve boom.

  • Love the post, Nancy!

    I think one of the best parts of reading is it lets you do things you wouldn’t normally do, experience things you will never have a chance to experience and transport you to place or times that no longer exist or haven’t occurred. It’s one of the reasons I love historicals!

  • Pat Cochran says:

    Racing or a library? A library or racing?

    Cars and libraries are mentioned in most of the books I
    read. Can’t afford the racing so I’ll continue to watch
    Nascar. Can afford a very basic libary. Guess which
    I’ll opt for!!

    Pat Cochran

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Pat, I’d opt for books over most things. Like you with NASCAR, I can’t afford a trip to England, so I watch BBC America.

  • LilMissMolly says:

    I have trouble getting the Google Reader feed. It’s weird, as no other blogs give me an error message when I click on it.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      LilMissMolly, Sorry you’re having trouble. We appreciate your persistence.

      I’m not familiar with Google Reader Feed, so this is a total stab in the dark, but could it be that the error is coming up because we’re no longer on Blogger, which was Google-based? Or does the URL have to change? We’re now, as opposed to

      Maybe some of the more savvy banditas will see your comment and have helpful, as opposed to blindly stabbing, advice.

  • Congrats on nabbing the GR, Kaelee !! So long as you know he is NOT to be trusted you will be fine!

    Great post, Nancy, and very insightful.

    I think those of us who write do a lot of vicarious living through our characters!

    I give mine all of the lovely stately homes I would love to have and all of the period furniture, gorgeous clothes and exquisite jewelry too.

    And there is ALWAYS a gorgeous library in my books. Always!

    Then there is the FOOD! I allow my characters to eat lots and lots of rich and decadent food and NEVER gain an ounce. That is definitely me living vicariously through them!

    And the best part is a I get to visit England again and again through my writing and my reading. I never get tired of it and until I can go myself writing about it and reading about it is the next best thing.

    • Nancy Northcott says:

      Louisa, thanks! I am so with you on the visiting England deal! We keep hoping to get back, but other things keep siphoning the money. Like tuition and, now, home repairs. *sigh*

  • Maureen says:

    I like watching action movies and movies with spies but they do a lot of running away from bad guys and they are always narrowly escaping death.