Leopards and Other Quirky Characters

By Liz, happy to be sharing release week with Barb and Edith/Maddie!

Hey readers! We’re still celebrating our triple release week, and I’m so happy Tell Tail Heart has made its way into the world.

This book was a lot of fun for me because one of my supporting characters has a starring role. For those who’ve read the series, I’m talking about Leopard Man.

Leopard Man is a Daybreak Island long-timer, someone who was on the island when Maddie, my protagonist was a child. He is what she refers to as Daybreak’s “very own quirky character,” who dresses from head to toe in leopard print garb, including a tail, and speaks only in Shakespeare. He’s endearing to the residents and he’s friends with Grandpa Leo, and Maddie is willing to take his eccentricities at face value for the sake of the mystique. He has no known address–something that becomes important in the book–and most residents think he is homeless. There are a lot of rumors about whether he’s mentally ill, or just eccentric.

What you may not know is that Leopard Man is based on a real person. In one of my old neighborhoods, there was a man who dressed in complete leopard print garb, including boots that looked a lot like these:

And yes, he wore a tail on good days. He was quite the sight to behold, strolling down Main Street with his leopard fedora, giant furry leopard coat, matching pants, boots, and tail. But the real-life Leopard Man wasn’t as happy-go-lucky as my fictional guy.

He was one of the town’s homeless population, and he had a lot of other problems. The town cops were on a first-name basis with him, and not in a good way. The rumor was that he had family, but they had disowned him. He was actually a topic of conversation at my Citizen’s Police Academy the night they covered community outreach.

The story was sad, for sure. But I saw an opportunity to not only develop an interesting character out of a real-life person, but also to try and dispel the notion that all homeless people should be lumped into one bucket and written off. By giving my Leopard Man a different story, I hope people will stop and look twice when they notice a neighborhood “quirky character.” And maybe even stop to hear their story.

Readers, do you have any quirky characters in your world? Tell us about them below–I’ll give one commenter a copy of Tell Tail Heart.

39 Thoughts

  1. The minute I read, “Leopard Man,” I knew what was coming, Liz! Congratulations on the new book – I can’t wait to read it (hoping R Julia has a copy tomorrow, otherwise I’ll find it at B&N when I pick up Barb’s).

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  2. We used to have a quirky neighbor in the complex. He seemed harmless, but he was the type of person who wouldn’t think twice of knocking on your door at midnight if he wanted an aspirin or something and thought you might have one. It was odd, to say the least.

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  3. Awe I love your story about this❤ I know lots of quirky characters but nothing super interesting to say about them, haha.

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  4. There is a guy who walks around in Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood where I work. He wears a kilt, t-shirt, and carries a walking stick. And he’s always singing! The kilts come in a variety of colors. I haven’t figured out how to put him in a story yet, though.

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  5. I work in a law school library and we have a few quirky characters that have come in here. Most of them have been harmless and had a legitimate question they needed help with. We’ve only had to call campus security a couple of times.

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  6. I am guessing he had mental illness of some form. When I was a child a few times I saw a woman in New London CT which was next to my town of Waterford, wearing beautiful, colorful flowing clothes, maybe mid eastern and I think a veil. Very exotic. I don’t think she ever talked to anyone. She was a mystery to everyone I knew but of course I wasn’t privy to police knowledge and there was no internet to research. 😀. She just was.

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  7. A handyman that I work with on my job is very quirky. He can fix anything, dislikes computer programs, and loves rabbits. He also raises chickens on his farm. Congratulations on your new release!

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  8. I’m sorry to hear the inspiration for the character wasn’t as happy as the actual character.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

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  9. In the first apartment building I lived in there were 12 units. All but one of the residents (other than me, of course 🙂 ) were eccentric to the max. What a strange way to learn to live in the real world. But they were all harmless and it made for an interesting year.

    I would love to win your book. Leopard man sounds like someone I would like to know.

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  10. I worked with a guy that every time we where evaluated, he hide under the trailer during our field deployments.

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  11. We have a homeless man who comes to the public library every day that resembles one of those wooden Native American figures I remember seeing in old westerns on TV, The figure would be outside of a store or barber shop. The man here is very tall and has that same profile as the figure. He seems shy and does not smile, but is courteous to everyone. He pushes a buggy with his possessions down the street. When we see him as we are driving in town, I always think that he looks like he should be from another earlier time back when the open plains were filled with buffalo. Thanks for the opportunity to receive your new book. Hope it is a great success!

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  12. I’m glad Leopard Man will get more of a starring role in this one. I don’t believe there are or have been any eccentrics in my neighborhood.

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  13. There was a neighbor, long since moved away, whose car had his initials on the driver and passenger doors. The car had long horn cattle horns on it. Plus, he wore a cowboy hat when ever he went out. This wouldn’t in and of itself be quirky if we were in Texas or Oklahoma but we lived close to the Canadian border.

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  14. I live in Erie Pa and there a couple of men who wear leopard hat or coats very unusual outfits and spend the day riding a bike built for two all over the city rain ,shine,or winter. Story is disowned by families but given allowances.

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  15. Love the title of your book! I don’t know a person who is so quirky that they really stand out.

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