The characters in "The Hambledown Dream" were in the main, inspired by real people. I'm not sure that there is one single character in the novel that did not have some sort of real world influence when it came to creating them.
The character of Beck is just one example. Described in the novel as a tall, solidly built guy with a rugged visage and an almost perfectly shaved head, Beck is the room mate of Andy DeVries - the central protagonist in "The Hambledown Dream". He's a quietly spoken builder's laborer on a Chicago building site, who shares an apartment with Andy in Chicago's inner northern district. Though he is quietly critical of Andy's destructive lifestyle, Beck doesn't voice his concerns to Andy immediately. However it is Beck who first notices the seeds of Andy's doubts and encourages him to re-think his path before it destroys him. And when something within Andy begins to drive him towards seeking redemption, only Beck stands in support of him when everyone else regards Andy with suspicion.
Beck's physical presence and character was partially based upon Chicago stand-up comic Mike Stanley who is himself a rugged presence and a really decent guy who I've had the pleasure of speaking to many times. He is a working Comedian and writer who originates from the Metro Detroit area. His high energy and cut throat delivery has made him a crowd favorite in comedy clubs and college campuses all over the country. In 2005 he won the "Last Comic Still Standing" Comedy competition in Rochester New York, The Joey's Comedy Club Challenge, And Placed in the top three of Michigan's Up and Comers . In 2006 he was Crowned the "Canadian Mist Whiskey Comedian of 2006".
Mike breaks down day to day subjects with a keen wit and drives his points home fearlessly. Mike Stanley can be heard regularly on Chicago's Red Bar Radio. I was pleased to be able to have such a good physical representation for the character of Beck.