The girl in question was the actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, the star of Whale Rider.
Now before you report me to the police, let me explain.
Years ago, when I began to write Tears of Min Brock, I roamed about like a casting director in search of faces to use for my characters. This meant staring at folks in the checkout line or in the mall, to which my kids would elbow me and call me a creeper.
I’m not! I’m an author, which in actuality is probably worse!
My search for Elabea was going nowhere until I watched Whale Rider with my kids. Keisha was superb as Kahu Paikea Apirana, the 12-year-old Maori girl who wanted to become the chief of the tribe.
She had a strong inner strength while her demeanor was tender and vulnerable yet not overly dramatic. Even her looks–a natural attractiveness that she carried in a nonchalant manner–were what I had pictured for Elabea as well.
I did not model Elabea after the movie’s heroine, but instead, used the performance to confirm what I had envisioned and created as the writer.
So next time you’re caught staring at someone, kindly tell them you’re not a pervert but an author looking for new characters. They’ll be flattered, and it just may keep you out of jail!