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Do you assign actor likenesses to characters?

For long, I had not been one to do that. Maybe this was in part because we’ve never had TV, so where others grew up with visual stories, I grew up imagining everything from the pages of a book. Then with DVDs, this changed. I still don’t do it with that systematicity of some people who have lists of characters and actors at the beginning of their stories (that sort of approach always feels somewhat false to me, although what do I know). But some likenesses have worked their way through.

Kněžna, who makes a cameo appearance here, actually goes way back to what I now believe to have been my very first piece of fanfiction, written during my teenage years at the request of “a short story, to be beautiful” by my sister for her birthday. It evolved into novel proportions and was finished years after that particular birthday. It was based on ideas and environment developed by Czech writer Jaroslav Foglar, but populated entirely by my own characters (and five characters of my sister’s creation). I still call it “my short story”, even though it’s actually not. Anyway, Kněžna has, for a long time, looked much like Libuše Šafránková, especially in her incarnation as Cinderella. This happened, in part, because a certain scene in the story was inspired by a drawing in a 1970s knitting and crocheting manual – I would flip through it, look at the pictures of young ladies in knitwear and try to imagine why they were in those strange poses they were (back then, the concepts of “fashion illustration creative licence” and “pattern illustrations are weird” were still beyond my grasp). Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella is from 1974, so apparently there’s some similarity. My mind works in mysterious ways like that.

The next character to have a likeness assigned was Edmund. My headcanon Edmund, as I mentioned in the note to the first chapter of The Peridan Chronicles, is dark-haired, because of the Czech illustrations. Then, later, I watched 4:50 from Paddington in the latest Miss Marple series and suddenly realised that Michael Landes’ character reminded me of Edmund for some reason; once I realised that, I could not go back. In this funny roundabout way, my headcanon child Edmund actually looks a lot like Skandar Keynes, although otherwise pretty much nothing else about my headcanon Narnia looks like those films. (Well, maybe except some of those parts that were filmed in the Czech Republic, because not too surprisingly, a lot of my headcanon Narnia looks like that which I’m familiar with.)

Then adult Lucy started looking much like Rosamund Pike. This happened because I played with the idea of Susan being similar to Grace Kelly (dark-haired, of course), the same sort of half gracefully aspirational, half tragic character. That one did not quite take root in the looks department, but along the way, I came across a photoshoot of Pike Grace Kelly-style, and went all “oooh, Lucy” – and that one stuck. There’s no arguing with my mind when it does that.

It’s for tracing these crazy roundabout mysteries of my creative process that I wanted a fanfiction-y journal. I’ve never gotten into the habit of writing a personal diary, but sometimes trying to keep track of this without it is rather maddening... I think it’s the concept of writing something private that anyone can at any time find and read without your permission anyway that doesn’t sit well with me – growing up with two sisters in a small house will do that to you. And all the stories of famous people’s diaries. Better to just make it public right from the start, I guess.

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