Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet Julie Ayers

Meet Julie Ayers

Often times I am asked where I got the idea for my book and characters.

Today I am going to spotlight Julie Ayers.

Julie, the spunky little girl from Sunset, Ohio with vivid, curious, brown eyes the color of honey with flecks of gold, wavy brown hair, a round face, and creamy mocha skin that easily tanned when kissed by the summer sun, is the mixing of many characters and people.

Being the heroine of the story and root of where my journey began, I have to point to two specific people:

Buffy Summers


Harry Potter

The story was born out of three things in the fall of 2005. It was my second quarter at The Ohio State University – Newark. I was taking four classes, two to note: Mythology 101 and Freshman Writing. The textbooks used in Freshman Writing were the first three books of the Harry Potter series. Being a 41 year old man at the time, I had no desire to ever read these books…big mistake! All things considered, holes in the story and obvious writing style, I loved them.

Side note and spoiler alert if you have not read the books or seen the movies, yet:

Snape was by far my favorite character and I knew there was more good to him than he was letting on. I have the paper to prove it. Trust me when I say I took a lot of flak liking him, especially after he killed Dumbledore.

So, the idea was planted to have a young character who had no idea they were special to be the only person who could do…something…

Buffy Summers played by the fabulous Sarah Michelle Gellar was the ultimate high school superhero. A girl with a secret purpose. She was the butt-kicking, vampire slaying of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She had humor, passion, boy trouble, fitting in problem, and all of the quirks I see on a daily basis coaching high school girls, with the additional problem of vampires and other demons wanting to kill her. I would record and watch Buffy every day and come home, do my homework and watch the series unfold.  

So this is where I started. Buffy Summers and Harry Potter were the foundation.

Mythology 101 was the frame (I will now stop using construction terms). In mythology, the final assignment was to create something based on what we had learned. As Professor Tebben had said, we could draw a picture, make a sculpture, write a paper, decipher Linear A, whatever we wanted to do as a final project. I decided to create my own mythological story. I created the sun god, moon goddess, mother earth, and it became so complex I knew I would never get it done in time. So I scraped the idea and wrote a paper comparing Mount Olympus and Canton’s Hall of Fame. It was terrible. I got an A- on the paper, and probably an A- in the class (I don’t remember). But, I kept the idea of creating my own mythology…that is important.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had another character influential on developing Julie. That was Cordelia Chase.


Charisma Carpenter as Cordy.

Smart, pretty, popular, and a cheerleader. All things I would add to my main character. Cordelia really came into her own when she moved to the tv show, Angel. She gave humor to the show and kept Angel centered. During one episode when Angel was teaching Cordelia how to use a sword, and she used the skills she had as a cheerleader to learn the techniques, I knew I had the next ingredient to my heroine.

Another side note – as much as I admire Joss Whedon and all that he has brought to the world, I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for writing Cordy into a corner and having to kill her off. At least he made up for it in her final appearance, “You’re Welcome.”

Growing up in the 70s I was witness to some great shows, especially since I was one of the early beneficiaries of cable, one show that I personally wouldn’t consider great (many do, however), but I never missed was “One Day at a Time.” And that was because I had a big time crush on Barbara Cooper.


 Yep, Valerie Bertinelli.

If I could hand draw the perfect image of Julie Ayers, she would look a lot like her. Sassy, cute and funny, the perfect teenage girl.

IN fact, I can even imagine her looking like this when she gets older:

Short, scrappy and heals really fast. That describes my girl, Julie, but it also describes another blast from the 70s. I was eleven years old when I bought my first copy of the new X-Men comic and this character leapt of the page:

The Wolverine has become one of the most popular superheroes ever, and is a big influence on Julie's development.

The final elements of Julie Ayers boils down to this:

I wanted her to have the skin tone and complexion of Adriana Lima, partly because of her South American heritage since Julie's family has history south of the border, too.

 creamy mocha skin that easily tanned when kissed by the summer sun”

Natalie Portman’s eyes, who I was a big fan of after watching “The Professional,
“vivid, curious, brown eyes the color of honey with flecks of gold”

And I, of course, with coaching girls since 1995, I had their behaviors and speech memorized about as well as any guy could. I purposely didn’t want to make her a track athlete, since I coached track. I chose basketball because I am a big fan of

 Dr. J. Julius Erving


And there you have it. From Buffy, to Harry, to Cordelia, Valerie, Adriana, Natalie, Dr. J and the hundred or so girls I have coached in the past two decades are all the elements poured into Julie Ayers, and how I came up with my heroine.
My butt-kicking savior of Seras all wrapped up in a nutshell.
Next time I will profile the making of Marcus Campbell.






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