I've got a question for other authors here: do you consider your characters to be alive?
The reason I ask is because of Patricia Cornwell. This past Thursday, I attended the first Cornwell event in Houston, Texas, since 1991! It was a well-attended gathering at a hotel ballroom hosted by Houston's own mystery store, Murder by the Book. Ms. Cornwell said a few words and then opened up a Q&A session. Most of the questions revolved around her main characters--Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli--and what they thought or did in certain situations. Now, I'll admit that I've not read any of Cornwell's books (my wife has read all of them, including the Jack the Ripper non-fiction one) and found all the information informative.
What fascinated me is how Cornwell, herself, and the audience members basically spoke about Scarpetta et. al. as if they were real people. I know how characters in long-running book and TV series can get themselves ingrained in our consciousness, becoming like friends. It's just that I hadn't experienced that with fiction. Cornwell, when describing her writing style, mentioned that she had a relationship with her characters, one of the main reasons why she "talks" with Kay, Pete, and the others.
My view is different. Well, it's different at this young stage of my career. Talk to me in twenty years and I might have a different opinion. For now, however, my characters do what they are told. I have plans for them, stories to tell.
As authors, do you consider your characters to be real?