Sometimes a character you intended as a walk-on will walk away with your heart. That was what happened to me when writing SAPPHO SINGS. I introduced Gongyla so well she would have taken over the book had I let her. But the book wasn't about Gongyla. The book is about Psappha, as the divine Sappho called herself. Psappha was a real woman, a famous poet, an inventor of language and meter, quoted by Masters of Greek Grammar and Literature centuries after her death for her perfection of style and form. It was my joy to put her words back into her thoughts and dialog. She was the focus of my Muse for more than forty years.
Nevertheless, Gongyla refused to leave my imagination and in doing so she stole Psappha's heart as well. The name was taken from an almost complete poem of Sappho's. A lovely piece that survived through the ages to grace our modern world.
But, like many times during the book's creation, I didn't start out to talk about Gongyla today. I wanted to talk about characterization tools. My favorite and most useful is to discover pictures of my characters in magazines (usually by accident) then frame them so that they look down from my office walls as I write. First, the irrepressible Gongyla as portrayed for me by Roanne Nesbit
And the lovely unknown who served as model for Psappha
(page clipped from New Woman magazine's February 1972)