Character Inspiration: Chris Wilson

Kindred Spirits by Jean Marie BauhausChristine “Chris” Wilson, the protagonist in Kindred Spirits and subsequent books in the series, started out as a supporting character in the original Restless Spirits. Ron Wilson’s younger sister, Chris has an ability to see and communicate with spirits that manifested when she was a child, shortly after the death of their mother. Chris was integral in helping Ron accomplish her goals in the first book, and when it came time to write the sequel, it made sense for her to step into the spotlight alongside her big sister.

Although she’s the younger sister, Chris is the more level-headed and cautious of the two. Her supernatural gifts have saddled her with a sense of responsibility and mission that you don’t often find in the youngest child. Coupled with her guilt over dragging Ron into her ghost-hunting business, a vocation that ended up getting Ron killed, Chris is as determined to protect her loved ones from any fallout associated with her talents as she is to use them to help those who are incapable of helping themselves.

Initially, as I wrote Restless Spirits, a couple of different sources served as inspiration as I developed Chris’s character. One was Ali Larter’s character from Final Destination, who shaped Chris’s appearance more than anything. But I was watching a lot of Ghost Hunters back then, and I think unconsciously Chris was also partially based on Amy Bruni, although I didn’t really realize that until I started following her on Instagram.

But as I started fleshing Chris out more for her role as a protagonist for Kindred Spirits, neither of those felt quite right. I wasn’t far into my exploratory draft for that book before the perfect casting dawned on me. It needed to be someone who not only came across as having brains and good sense, but also strong-willed and sarcastic enough to keep up with Ron. And of course she had to be a redhead.

Image via starsunfolded.com.

Once Emma Stone came to mind, everything clicked into place for this character. Mind you, this was the pre-Oscar, pre-going-blonde-for-Spider-Man Emma Stone from Easy A and Zombieland. She’s got beauty, brains and plenty of sass, just like Chris. She also has a self-deprecating sense of humor that’s perfect for Chris.

Of course, if my wildest fantasies ever come true and this series gets made for television, this particular bit of fantasy casting is pretty much guaranteed not to come true, thanks to those Oscars. But this will always be the definitive Chris Wilson as far as the movie in my mind is concerned.

Have you read Kindred Spirits? Who is your definitive Chris?

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