Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Dream" People - Inspirations For The Characters in The Hambledown Dream (Part 3 - Andy DeVries)

I'd taken a break from this little series of articles but I thought it would be a good idea to kick it along again as I think it's a worthwhile part of my story's telling and it gives you - the reader - an idea of the thought processes that have gone into the development of my characters.

Andy DeVries was a character who was central to the story, right from the very beginnings of the idea that has now become The Hambledown Dream. He was the individual who first germinated in my mind and I felt I had a real sense of him, even before I had a name for him.

Likewise, the idea of a character who is, at first glance, irredeemable but who has the spark somewhere deep inside of him to make a profound life change in his life was one of the earliest ideas that I had. All he needed was the oxygen in order to coax that spark to life - a spark that, as the story progresses comes from a fairly unlikely place.

Andy DeVries is a fairly "ugly" character when we first meet him. He is emaciated, he hides his features under stringy and long hair, black mascara - sometimes lipstick too - and fairly gothic/emo clothing. An insatiable desire for drugs fuels his destructive existence and, at the outset, Andy is not a character who we want to like. Yet there is something about Andy that prevents us from totally writing him off. He has an uncanny talent for classical guitar and he walks a delicate tightrope, trying to juggle two worlds - but is failing. Then he arrives at a critical point, where the very foundations of everything he has come to know about life is shaken irrevocably and we bear witness to something profound.

In imaging the character of Andy DeVries, I sought to have in my mind someone who is very much a Chicagoan, someone who embodies an idea of the potential we see in Andy from the earliest scenes of Andy's journey - but in saying this I have to stress that the person I eventually used as a physical template in no way represents the actual character of Andy as he is when we first meet him.

Dean Carlson is a Chicago stand up comedian and writer who, from a relatively young age, has established himself as one of Chicago's most interesting and painfully funny individuals. He has explored his rather hard knock existence to date, through his comedy which is laced with an acerbic wit and a surprising poignancy that I have not found in quite the same measure in any of his contemporaries.

Chicago Comedian & Writer Dean Carlson.

Dean Carlson possesses a very streetwise, yet urbane presence and a simmering ruggedness just under the surface which, to me embodies the Andy DeVries that we see develop from a crucial point in the narrative of The Hambledown Dream. He possesses a world weary intelligence and this translates into his comedy seamlessly.

I have had the opportunity to work with (from a great distance) and talk to Dean quite a lot over the past couple of years and I like Dean a lot.

His qualities make him a an ideal physical representation for Andy in the novel.

You can follow Dean through his entertaining blog "Unhigherable".



  1. This is really cool. I like seeing where you got your inspiration from. And just for the record, I always sort of liked Andy, even when he was a loser. I remember really wanting him to turn his life around in the beginning of the book. You did a great job with his character!

  2. Hey - also - I am passing a blog award on to you! I think you're new to the whole blog award thing, but basically it's just a good publicity tool. You get one and pass it around to different people... it's a really great way to attract new readers and stuff. So, enjoy!

  3. Dean, I'm really enjoying The Hambledown Dream, so I find these types of posts especially timely. Can't wait to read more this weekend!!

  4. Melissa - those words of encouragement mean a lot. I am soooo well aware that you are reading the book this month and am biting my nails in anticipation of your review.