Following some discussions over the last couple of years on #TBConFB, and particularly inspired by my latest read, the Scandi Noir thriller, The Sandman, I am starting an occasional series, Putting a Face to the Name, discussing how I visualise the characters from some of my favourite reads.
Obviously, most of the time, it is the author’s descriptions that help me to envisage the characters. However, sometimes I have an image despite the author’s intentions! It can be something as little as the character’s name or a physical trait or characteristic that makes my brain home in on a particular face.
It is often that of a celebrity or someone that I’ve seen a lot of recently – several times I’ve happily got a picture in my head of a new character and realised I’ve borrowed the face from a contestant on The Apprentice or The Great British Bake Off!
Regardless of how I come by it though, once it is in place, I find it very difficult to shake off my original image, even if later information in the book directly contradicts the picture of the character I have in my head.
The Sandman by Lars Kepler
First up, the main protagonist and dedicated super-cop, Detective Inspector Joona Linna:
“Joona kneels there completely still. He is wearing jogging pants and a white sweat-soaked T-shirt. The sleeves are tight across the muscles of his upper arms. He raises his head slightly. His eyes are gray, like polished granite…Joona was trained in the Netherlands for effective close combat with bayonets, knives, and pistols. He was taught to exploit changing situations and to use innovative Krav Maga techniques…Joona smiles, running his hand through his untidy blond hair”
Now, you say t-shirt, you say muscles, you say close combat and I immediately think Jason Statham (come on, I’m only human).
BUT then you add in blond hair and it’s hellooo, Chris Hemsworth! (AKA, appropriately enough, Scandi God of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor).
That would be a very aesthetically pleasing combination! 😉
Next up is the determined and brave AF, Inspector Saga Bauer:
“The punching bag lets out a sigh, and the chain rattles. Saga Bauer moves nimbly to one side, follows the movement of the bag with her body, and strikes again. Two blows, causing a sound that rumbles off the walls of the empty boxing gym. Her long blond hair flies out with the rapid movement of her hips, flicking across her face”
I immediately, thought of Scarlett Johansson – I think because of her kick-ass roles as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in The Avengers et al and that of the eponymous Lucy. Add in her own long blonde hair and, for me, ScarJo was Saga.
Finally, creepy, incarcerated and quietly terrifying serial killer, Jurek Walter:
“a thin man…dressed in blue jeans and a denim shirt. The man is clean-shaven, and his eyes seem remarkably calm. The many wrinkles covering his pale face look like the cracked clay at the bottom of a dried-up riverbed”
Partly it was the above description and partly it was knowing what type of character he was that made me immediately think of Rutger Hauer – player of many serial killers, psychopaths and all-round suspicious characters, including in The Hitcher, Past Midnight and Sin City, and currently to be seen eating human flesh in the third series of SyFy’s Channel Zero (as you do).
Thank you for reading my first Putting a Face to the Name! Please feel free to share your own impressions and opinions below.