Character Inspiration: Heroes

Anja Gärtner

Anja is my naivety, my innocence, my feminine side. Anja is the part of my soul that’s seventy-one years old. In love with all things vintage and morally old-fashioned. She’s also the living, breathing servant of Jesus Christ that I am. Battling demons is my purpose, and I get to express what that warfare looks like spiritually in this character’s physical battles throughout the book. Anja is half of who I am and half of who I want to be.

Artwork by Christos Karapanos. Copyright Danny Raye 2021 © All Rights Reserved.

Kim Keitaro

There are several pieces that fit together the puzzle that is Keitaro.

When I was a teen, I was obsessed with Jet Li movies. Kiss of the Dragon is one of the first ones I saw (and I was probably too young to have supposed to be watching it). I loved his martial arts style, how his movies had an unfiltered rawness to them. They felt REAL even though they were fictional, and my favorite part was how Jet Li barely spoke throughout the movies but ALWAYS got his point across.

But the identity of this character particularly was inspired by JB of GOT7 in his music video “Focus”. The way he cascaded through there with this elusive vibe sparked a personality type that the book needed. A private man shrouded in mystery who barely speaks but has a plethora of talents and is one badass fighter…otherwise known as Keitaro.

Credit: JUS2- “Focus on Me” M/V

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a soft spot for Asian guys and was always upset that not every movie appreciated them the way Jet Li’s movies appreciated him. So I vowed to properly write Asian guys with realistic cultural elements to their personality/names/dialect/etc. Hence why Keitaro is Korean and very much of his ethnicity is woven into the story. From him speaking Korean to eating ssambap at a Korean restaurant to the order of his name (last name THEN first name). Keitaro is very much Korean.

Artwork by Christos Karapanos. Copyright Danny Raye 2021 © All Rights Reserved.

Victor Ortega

The appearance of Victor was inspired by the rapper De La Ghetto. I love how clean cut he is, love his body type, and especially his style.

Victor is the personification of the man Cobrador was supposed to be. A happy husband, a hardworking man, loyal, willing to sacrifice everything for love. He is everything I wanted in the man that inspired the battle of this book, and I killed Victor intentionally. By doing so, he became what was, and through writing him I was able to mourn the “forever man” I was supposed to have.

Artwork by Christos Karapanos. Copyright Danny Raye 2021 © All Rights Reserved.

Detective Erick Danillo

Watching The Purge, I totally fell in love with Frank Grillo’s character Leo. When most people see Frank Grillo, they see an attractive Italian man. But when I see him, I see Dad material all the way. The only way to take down Cobra would be for everyone to play their part, and I needed a detective to be the final piece, but I didn’t wanna do the cliché “hot detective”. I wanted a dad detective who protected these two kids (Anja and Keitaro) from a big bad criminal (kingpin Cobrador). You still might see a hottie with some meat on him when you see Danillo, but I see a strong dad who was there with his daughter every step of the way to her liberation.

Artwork by Christos Karapanos. Copyright Danny Raye 2021 © All Rights Reserved.

Dante Vittorio

Dante is based off of a real person. So, in case you didn’t know, Cursed by Cobrador is based on a true story. To write it realistically, I needed to include the people who made my journey to freedom manageable. Dante is one of those people.

The real Dante’s name is John, and he was my white knight. Growing up without a dad meant that I latched onto the first sight of love and continued to love even in unhealthy and unstable conditions. John taught me that what I was enduring with my husband wasn’t normal, and guided me toward understanding what healthy love looked like through a kind, patient, understanding friendship.

I owe John so much more than I’d ever be able to repay him for all of his time and teachings. So I created a lovable character that mimics a lot of who John was for me during the darkest hour of my life.

And no, John does not look like Big Jiggly Panda who I cast to play Dante. In my head, the character Dante looked like a jolly little cherub with lumberjack-colored hair and a teddy bear body.

Pastor Shaun King

Shaun is another character based off of a real person, though this person wasn’t apart of my journey. I needed a pastor for Anja to reference when she had religious questions along her ascension as an exorcist, and there was only one pastor in all my church-going days that came to mind. Shawn Apking. A hilarious pastor at a church named Cornerstone. So I incorporated pieces of his personality into this character, added a cookie soft center and an encyclopedia of information to his brain, borrowed pieces of Shawn’s name, and thus Shaun King was born.


How do you come up with characters, if you’re a writer? Which character do you think will be your favorite when the book is released?

Thank you for reading!

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