My recommendation is to always mold your main characters out of what you understand. Using bits of personality from people you know and respect as well as aspects of yourself allows you to write a truly life-like protagonist. I enjoyed coming up with and molding the characters in my Fantasy novels. I built separate personalities that not only resonate with me but have a lot in common with my own personality and those of their namesakes.
In Oliver, the scared, unsure, but ultimately determined and curious Seeker, I see myself. Not only as a boy but even now after a decade in the military I still tend to walk through life with an unsure determination and desire to do something good. I am still coming to terms with me and I and it was an interesting exercise to put myself in the story of The Seeker’s Burden and write Oliver’s character to reflect many aspects of my own character. This character is named after my son, a four year old boy who is one of the most alethic, bright, moody, and voracious learners I know. Every time he sees my first book with the cover of the older Oliver, he yells, “It’s the book about me!”
In Ethan, the experienced, sure, and righteous leader I wrote in the aspects of character that I aspire to. Empathy alongside a commanding and assured presence in times of danger. Like Aragorn before, Ethan is a leader among men who fights for the weak and against whatever evil encroaches. He is as fearless and skilled as his namesake, the eldest son of a dear friend. A born leader he leads with passion and fury and yet with a tenderness as well.
Lucy is the strong willed personification of my daughter whom she was also named after (see a trend?). In her character I see the strength and willingness to offer help that I see and hope to always see in my two and a half year version. My daughter is a bulldozer who falls and pops right back up saying, “I’m ok”, and has a tender and loving heart. I shaped the book character around her and my hope for her future.
Writing the characters this way allowed me not only to put realism into their persons, but gave me a greater appreciation for the art of entwining the real world with the fictional. I wanted the characters to be relatable and realistic while still being heroic and inspiring to show that even the most common people have the spark of greatness. Heroes also feel pain and uncertainty, the only difference is they keep striving to do good in a broken world.