Lest you think this is just an excuse for posting another gratuitous Sean Bean pic, let me tell you I have been thinking about what Susan Wilbanks said last week, about the Sharpe books being better than the films. I’m about half-way through the series now and for the most part, I agree. But I’m also finding there’s a synergy between the books and films, at least in my mind, that helps them both.

For this series, I broke my usual rule of reading the book first, so Sean Bean easily became my image of Sharpe. In the books he is dark-haired and there’s the confusion about where in England he hailed from, but I’ve managed to get over those issues. Now when I read the books, I hear Bean’s voice and see his face. Yeah, it doesn’t hurt the reading experience at all. : )

In cases where I have read a book before seeing the film, sometimes the actors still manage to take the place of my first mental images of the characters. When I’ve read subsequent installments of Harry Potter, I now see and hear the voices of the cast from previous films. Also not a bad thing.

Lots of authors (many of us here, I think) use this sort of effect in a similar way, using actors as inspiration for their characters’ appearance and sometimes for aspects of their personality as well.

Right now I’m “using” John Corbett and Laura Linney, picking up a few traits from their roles in Northern Exposure and Love, Actually. For my hero, I found this image. He’s got that bold, embracing-life sort of feel I want for my balloonist. Laura Linney’s character, on the other hand, is sensitive, caring and bound by a sense of responsibility. Clever contrast, huh?

Anyway… as a reader or a writer, do you find this sort of synergy happening between books and films?