Have you ever been somewhere and met a character from a book? I don’t mean at a Harry Potter Hogwart’s gathering, but that crazy moment when you’re at the beach, walking down the street or in the supermarket and there standing before you larger than life is the broken down homeless man on a street corner sheltering from the rain, the 20s-something career woman running to catch the bus with her twin daughters or the group of teenagers hanging loose.

luke visits a favourite haunt

Haven River - final - big

My first novel focuses on Luke Conway, a shy sixteen-year-old who loses himself in the world of books. The photo above is Luke and I have a very strong picture in my mind as to what he looks like and how he moves.

My day job takes me out of town from time to time and I love nothing more than at the end of a hard day’s work to visit one of my favourite second hand book shops. On one particular day I had headed to the chidlren’s section to see if I could find a pre-loved copy of the first Harry Potter book (I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter series). As I was browsing the shelves, I was distracted by movement in my peripheral vision. Climbing slowly up the stairs was Luke. I almost fell over. It was like he’d just stepped out of Haven River.

I was completely mesmerised, lost in a magical moment. This guy walked how I imagined Luke would walk, he had the same mannerisms, wore the same type of clothes and I picked he had a quiet, unassuming nature. The only thing not quite ‘right’ was that this Luke had wavy, blonde hair. But apart from that everything else was spot on.

I continued to watch ‘Luke’, hopefully without being too obvious or creepy. He browsed amongst the books occasionally picking one up. He was in no hurry and seemed to be enjoying being in most people’s favourite place. Yes, I so wanted to go and tell him that he had stepped out of my book but decided against it – it would’ve been too weird!

Luke eventually left without buying anything and I never did find a Harry Potter book, but I’ll never forget the day Luke left Haven River and paid a visit to my favourite second hand book shop.

That was over three years ago. I’ve been back a number of times to the bookshop, every time wondering whether Luke would be there.

Is it just a writer’s or reader’s overly vivid imagination that we see characters? Or are we just more in tune with what’s going on around us, in that state of mindfulness?

Have you ever seen a character from a book?