Sometimes when I'm reading a book I find that my mind links up the novel's characters to real live people. I have recently read The Likeness by Tana French - an excellent second novel by an excellent new writer - one of the main characters - Rafe, metamorphosised in my head into the actor Richard. E. Grant, and once there wouldn't go away. Whenever I read Stephen King's IT, my mind voices Pennywise the clown with Jack Nicholson. This happens to me time and time again.
I am finding this is also true with my writing, although in a more preordained way.
The 'hero' of my novel Bathory is a slim man in his thirties with dark eyes and unruly brown hair, in my mind's eye he is Orlando Bloom. I have a picture of said Mister Bloom pinned to my story board to keep his image true in my head (also young Orlando is quite pleasing to the eye when writing tries my brain!!). On my board I also have a print of Erzsebet Bathory herself and the ruins of her castle in Slovakia, plus a couple of photos of ravens - these big black birds make frequent visits in my story. There are also various pictures of the moon in various stages of its cycle. I have a calendar of 2006; that's when my novel is set, and a calendar of Slovakia in 1610; that's when Bathory was entombed. But my biggest attention to detail is my fictitious village of Parish.
I live on the Island of Sheppey...which contrary to some people does really exist!...and as I know the island so well I decided that's where I would set my novel, so I made up the tiny village of Parish, which is nestled neatly between Leysdown and Harty (places that really exist), and overlooks the sea. To keep Parish fresh in my mind I have drawn a map, detailing every street, shop and postbox...I do not want myself or my characters getting lost as they wander about the village.
I sometimes wonder if this is a bit too obsessive?
How do you keep characters and place fresh in your minds?