Part of the discovery process for me is finding images that evoke character. They don’t have to look like the character although that’s always helpful, but the pictures I use as placeholders have to capture the attitude and personality of that character. When I thought about the Demon Island Historical Society, I thought of this Grant Wood painting:
I love that painting. Well, I love Grant Wood.
So I needed three proper ladies with three distinct personalities and distinct agendas, none of whom are what they seem. Since the Historical Society looms large in the plot, but not so much in the first act, I had to establish them quickly, hoping that people would remember them later, not just as the three Historical Society ladies, but as Marvella, Trish, and Cecily.
I knew my placeholder for Marvella would be Margo Martindale because that woman can play any character, so showing her as having many faces would much easier with a terrific actress as a touchstone. But the other two women were going to be dimensional, too, and that meant actresses that could turn on a time. So I picked these two:
There’s also a lot of Esme and Nanny Ogg in Cecily and Trish, so I have a lot to draw on.
I know those faces will fade and the personalities will shift as I write the characters–Nita and Nick have already slipped away from their placeholders–but as a starting point, this is the Historical Society.