If The Blue Man was made into a film…

I’ve already written a recent blog post where I discussed my horror inspiration for The Blue Man, but in this post I want to share my character influences on my recently published novel. The reason I decided to write this post is that during Book Week NI a few people I was talking to, including librarians and readers, asked me if I would love to see my book made into a movie. The answer to that is what any author might say: of course!

Imagining a film version of The Blue Man got me thinking about my characters. I didn’t realise until then about how nineties cult classic, The Craft, was an influence on The Blue Man. Like The Craft, my novel has four rather delinquent teenage girls who are subjected to a supernatural terror; in my story it’s through the resurrected Blue Man spectre, rather than witchcraft.

I’m going to delve a bit deeper into the plot of my novel now, so if you haven’t yet read The Blue Man then – SPOILER ALERT – stop reading now!

Megan – protagonist or antagonist?

Megan is one of my two main viewpoint characters. Some readers have said that they disliked her in the earlier chapters: both in 2000 when she was a teenager and in 2020 as an adult, but began to sympathise with her later once she suffered the tragedy of the loss of her brother, Stuart, at the hands of The Blue Man. In terms of ‘The Craft’ I suppose Megan would be the ‘Sarah’ character: a bit of an underdog, but scary once able to wield her power. Why blonde? Originally it was to symbolise the colour of light, even though Megan herself has an underlying darkness.

Sabrina – protagonist of sorts

Again, like Megan, some readers have stated that they didn’t find my other viewpoint character Sabrina particularly sympathetic until later in the book. She’s a bit of a doormat to start with, and desperately wants to have friends and be liked. In that sense, I suppose she would be the ‘Bonnie’ character in The Craft. It was perhaps a subconscious decision, but her name Sabrina was probably inspired by ‘Sabrina‘ or ‘Sabrina the teenage witch‘, which didn’t occur to me at the time – the name just came to mind when I was writing it. Why brunette? Opposite of Megan, symbolising darkness.

Louisa Mae – antagonist with style

Louisa Mae is the main villain from the start of my novel. She’s a sassy and charismatic redhead. In terms of The Craft, she would be the frightening, yet beautiful Nancy. I wanted Louisa Mae in my novel to come across as realistic and vulnerable too: later in the book, she gets her comeuppance in a horrible way at the hands of Megan when possessed by The Blue Man. I got her unusual sounding name from an Edwardian era register of names in Belfast, as originally she was going to be the reincarnation of The Blue Man’s nemesis, which I later rewrote for the character Sabrina, to increase the platonic tension between frenemies/besties Megan and Sabrina. However, I loved the cool name Louisa Mae, so I kept it for her. Why a redhead? Well, ginger hair is stereotypically associated with having a fiery temperament and though I tend to avoid stereotypes for the most part, I felt this one trait suited the character I wanted to create.

Lauren – antagonist of sorts

Lauren doesn’t get as much page-time as the other girls: she’s merely Louisa Mae’s partner in crime. Lauren goes along with Louisa Mae and Megan’s devious doings and enables the horror of The Blue Man in the process by encouraging use of the Ouija board and making the myth of The Blue Man a reality by blaming various incidents on him, all for sadistic fun. She’s a fairly realistic teenage girl, and I suppose her only sympathetic moment is when she cries for help after Megan’s revenge on Louisa Mae. Lauren would probably be the ‘Rochelle’ character of The Craft: smart and devious, but with an underlying sense of morality.

Johnny – the love interest with ghostly motives

In The Blue Man, Johnny is the boy caught between Megan and Sabrina, much like Skeet Ulrich’s character in The Craft, caught between Nancy and Sarah. Johnny of course has a more creepy back story in my novel. Why the name? No reason really; simply an ‘everyman’ kind of name, like ‘Joe Bloggs’.

Stuart – reappearance as a ghost of warning

Megan’s brother Stuart is killed by The Blue Man, but later reappears as a ghost in varying states of decay. I suppose my influence here was Griffin Dunne’s character in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ where the deceased backpacker returns as a zombie to warn his friend. In The Blue Man, Stuart has a warning for his sister Megan; but not about The Blue Man, as you might expect.

The takeaway?

Are story ideas ever original? All ideas have been done before and rehashed; but a writer’s job is to take a concept and flesh it out in an original way. I like to think that not only is The Blue Man a different kind of ghost horror, but one that is also open to interpretation. Who really are the villains in the book? Who is sympathetic, and at what point in the story? Just like in real life, my characters are three dimensional people. It might make for uncomfortable reading at times, but it certainly brings you along on their journey in a more immersive sense if you can emotionally resonate with the characters for however long it takes you to read their story.

If you want to read about my character development for Kimberly in The Buddha’s Bone, you can read my post here.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has written four novels, including award-winning ghost horror, The Blue Man, as well as three poetry collections. Her writing confronts the nature of self; her novels feature main characters on a dark psychological journey who have a crisis of identity and create a new sense of being. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing literary journal with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from publishing pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary lad, a voracious reader of sea monster books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/75c5a1ad6956/leilanie-stewart-author-info

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