Friday, May 4, 2012

Casting Janus

I don't think I can begin to adequately express how excited -- and nervous -- I am about my upcoming release of Phoenix Rising Book One: Janus. This book is a couple years in the making, and I've wanted to get the next stage in the Phoenix stories out there for awhile. I just hope people haven't forgotten me!

Today, I want to have a little fun. Everyone has seen the 'cast your characters' posts, so that's what I'm going to do today. But, I'm going to do more than just the hero and heroine of Janus, I'm going to cover a few characters who appear in the book. The Phoenix books are told as a 'cast of characters', which I love doing.

We'll begin with the main characters of this book.

First, we have John Smith XXXIV, Ambassador from Aretu. Yes, that works out to "John Smith the Thirty-Fourth. He tells Beverly Surimoto in the first series the Areth are a people of tradition. Or a lack of imagination. John was introduced in The Phoenix Rebellion as an Areth soldier stranded on Earth when his ship was destroyed during an attack by the Sorracchi. Now that we have won the war, John has set aside his weapons to stand as an ambassador between our worlds.

I use Christopher Eccleston as my inspiration for John. (Yes, if you're a Doctor Who fan you see my side there). Christopher Eccleston isn't your typical Hollywood Sexy kind of hero, but there is definitely something about him that appeals to me. And much to his chagrin, John Smith is seen as a bit of a sex symbol on Earth.

His counterpart is Jenifer. Just Jenifer. He sometimes thinks of her as Jenifer Of No Last Name. There is a reason she uses no last name, but that reason is only revealed with time. She's a tough, independent, snarky woman with an intelligence John can only guess at and a beauty hidden behind cold, angry eyes. And you'd better hope she never shoots at you. You're as good as dead.

I had a harder time focusing in on who I might cast as Jenifer, but ultimately I chose Claire Forlani. My father thought Claire was just beautiful, and he said it was because of her eyes. They hid a great deal. And that is a key element of Jenifer... the secrets she hides behind her eyes.

A lot of past characters from The Phoenix Rebellion are still integral parts of the ongoing series, and I'm putting them below -- as they say in Hollywood -- by order of appearance.

The book opens with Lieutenant Colonel Connor Montgomery and his Second-In-Command Mel (Melanie Briggs). Connor and Melanie command the Firebirds, an elite group of Earth Force soldiers. The best of the best. Connor is brother to First Lady Caitlin Montgomery-Tanner, and for much of the first series, assumed dead. He and Mel appeared in End Game to help save the day and now they work for The Prez.

When I think of Connor, I think of Ben Browder. A bit of that southern charm to him, although Connor grew up in France. He's cocky, sexy, and hunky. Mel is a soldier, but she's also a woman (a fact Connor isn't likely to forget). I see her as a short-haired Mandy Moore. The point about Mel is she isn't afraid to break a nail, but put her in a dress and Connor's jaw is probably on the floor.

Colonel (Ret.) Nick Tanner was a major player in the first series, and now he's a very, very important man. Nick Tanner is now known as President Nicholas Tanner... and that would be president of the world, by the way. In The Phoenix Rebellion, Nick finally got Caitlin Montgomery to the altar and now she's his first lady.

If you're a sci fi fan, these two look familiar. Actually, many of my inspirational actors and actresses probably look familiar. Nick Tanner is without question a character personification of Richard Dean Anderson from his Jack O'Neill stage on SG-1. All that sexy silver hair and sexy arms and... *ahem*... sorry. Tangent there. And his Caitlin is Amanda Tapping, also known as Sam Carter on SG-1. Worked out well like that.

Although other characters come around... Jace and Lilly Quinn... Beverly Surimoto and Victor... along with the introduction of new characters, the final two who really make an impact in the book and series are Michael Tanner and Jacqueline Anderson.

Anyone who followed the first series knows I love Michael. Of all the characters I have ever written, Michael is "The One". The character I'm so glad came from me. There are so many reasons, but mainly it comes down to there can never be anyone else like Michael. He is unique... and beautiful. I'm sure that doesn't make sense, but if you saw Michael the way I do, you'd understand.

Because Michael is Nick's son, and often said to look just like Nick twenty years younger, Michael is in essence also inspired by Richard Dean Anderson. Just more of a MacGyver era versus SG-1. Michael perpetually has his hair too long, and is slow to smile, but he's brilliant and has a heart so pure it's fascinating.

I wish I could say who inspired Jacqueline. In truth, I found this image years ago and it fit her well. Jacqueline is great for Michael because she challenges him in ways no one else can. She is very opposite to him, but he's made her into a different woman for loving him and being loved by him.

Okay, that's it. The next book, Triad, will have some old characters and some brand spankin' new characters... but that's for a future post. 

If you haven't read The Phoenix Rebellion yet, you have a great opportunity to buy all four books at a discounted rate. Now you can buy a 4-book pack, in your choice of five different electronic formats, through the Desert Breeze Publishing website. An almost 30% savings!


  1. Gail, Your fascinating post about your secondary characters tells me how passionate you are about them. Yes, I can understand how you feel about Michael. I think we all have a special character we cherish. I especially like John Smith's picture. He has that other worldly look. Enjoyed this post.

    1. Thank you, June. It's hard to really say any of them are truly secondary, just not in the spotlight. For instance, Connor will have his own 'book' in the series, just not yet. In the meantime, he's in the lives of everyone else.

      I love that picture of "John". It's the smirk, I think.

  2. Gail, I don't know all these real characters, but sure sounds like you've made a good fit. I especially like J&J-Jenifer and John. Bet they carry the book well. Enjoyed the post-good ideas.

    1. Thank you, Jude

      Had I begun this book with no background to match to, I wouldn't have chosen to have two names beginning with J; in fact, I'd usually tell an author not to do that.

      But because this is a continuation of the original series, I am kind of stuck. I never intended to have these two together when they appeared in the first series. But, as I planned this series I realized they were perfect for each other. I tried to decide if I should change her name (since she appeared far less in the first series in comparison to John), but in the end Jenifer was Jenifer. And there's a twist about her name anyway.

      Thank you for the comment.

  3. Okay, I will admit they look like a fine cast... :-)

    1. Once I received a review in which -- apparently because they couldn't find anything else to ridicule -- they made a comment that 'of course' my hero was attractive and my heroine was beautiful.

      How often do you read a book where the hero is ugly and the heroine has a bad perm and crooked teeth? :-)

      Yes, I think they're a mighty fine cast. The next few books have good lookin' characters, too, but most are new to the series so I don't want to reveal the casting yet.

  4. Michael is my favorite character so far and I hope to hear more of him
    and also hope too wicked for words Kathleen never shows up again!

    1. You said you were half way through book four, right?

      Hmmmm... I'm going to refrain commenting on Kathleen, then. But yes, she is 'too wicked for words', no doubt about it.

      Michael was 'though up' just like any of the other characters, to play his part in the whole story and have his time in the spotlight. But I knew by the end of book one/beginning of book two he would be sooooo much more than that. To me, Michael is the glue that holds everything together and the driving force of the series. Even when his part is subtle and more background. He's there.

      He is going to have an important story throughout the new series, too.

  5. I like your character choices. I even recognize some of them. As you know I went through the trauma learning how to download to my Kindle today. I put your A Lifetime Ago on the Kindle while I was practicing. Now, if I can understand this genre, I plan to pop back over there and get your set. I'd hate to drive you crazy asking questions so this would be the best route to go. :)

    1. Don't worry, Paisley. My novels are science fiction, but they aren't 'hi sci fi'. You don't have to be a tech genius to figure out what's going on. :-) Much of it will feel very familiar.

      But, any questions... you know how to find me.

  6. Hey Gail! I'm looking forward to this new installment to the Phoenix world. I enjoyed the first set so much... especially Michael :) Although, I have to admit, your charcter picks do not match the pictures in my head, but they're really great!

    1. That's part of the reason I don't like putting people on the actual cover, so the reader can imagine who they want. But it's fun to share who I had in mind. I'm glad you're looking forward to it, Jenn.