Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

Zachary Levi is the actor who currently plays Chuck on NBC's Chuck, and voices Flynn Rider in Disney's Tangled. Zac is also the "real world" template for Neil MacGregor, one of the main characters in my novel The Quiet in the Land, which I'm still busy editing.

It had probably been twenty years or more since I wrote to an actor whose work I admired. I think I should do this more often; I've written to  many writers whose work has inspired me, why not more actors whose storytelling talents have entertained, inspired, or blessed me? Is it because it seems like such a fan girl thing to do? Well then, call me a fan girl, because late last summer I  wrote to Zac Levi.

I wanted to let Zac know how much I appreciate his work on Chuck, and also the person he is off screen (a committed Christian who isn't shy about sharing his faith), as revealed in places like this interview in Relevant Magazine.

Then one day last week I opened my mailbox, and this was inside:

I hadn't asked for a photo, so this was a fun surprise, and also quite lovely that he looks particularly like my character, Neil, in this photo. The only difference is, Neil has blue eyes.

This is Neil from the point of view of Willa, the other main character from TQITL:

In the shadows across the cabin Neil MacGregor turned, retracing his steps toward her.

The face emerging into the fire’s light was as different from her husband’s as one man’s face could be from another, yet still it was a pleasing one. He had a good jaw on him, and no one could say his eyes were anything but beautiful, rimmed in black lashes below brows strongly marked. His hair always seemed in need of a comb, as if he had run his hands through it, forgetting it was tailed, but the shorter wisps that curled over his scarred brow were pretty enough for a woman to envy. His nose was perhaps a bit long, but he had a kind mouth, with full lips shaped for smiling. Only they were not smiling now, nor pressed together in thought.

A prickle raced over the roots of Willa’s hair. Neil MacGregor had stopped his pacing and spoken at last, only she had not heard a word of it, and now he was looking at her in the way she had just been looking at him. At her hair, her eyes, her mouth. She was caught in his gaze, unable to move.
~ from The Quiet in the Land
Copyright 2010 Lori Benton
Thank you, Zac!

16 comments:

  1. Lori, how cool that Zac sent you an autographed photo. What a kind thing for him to do.

    Thanks for sharing the excerpt from your story. Can you ever write! You have a gift much like that of your wonderful CP Laura Frantz. Any day now I expect to hear that your agent has sold your book. I'm ready to happy dance on your behalf. =)

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  2. Beautiful, Lori! And bless you, Keli! Being compared to Lori is the finest compliment I can think of as I love her work so much. Funny that I thought of Neil as looking like this, too. I know it's a special thrill when you find a template that really speaks to your writing heart. Thanks so much for sharing this. Always read your excerpts like a parched soul, lapping up the beauty of your prose:)

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  3. Keli, thank you so much for that, and I hope to be happy dancing with you before too long. :) I adore Laura's writing, so no matter what she says it's ME who feels complimented when it comes to comparisons! :)

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  4. Laura, thank you so much, my friend. I'm so looking forward to TCL... can't wait to read the new back half, and just hold the printed book in my hands. It's going to be so lovely.

    And don't you just love Neil's... I mean, Zac's curls? Right now on CHUCK his hair is cut much shorter than this and he doesn't look quite as much like Neil, who has longish 18C hair. That's why of all the photos that could have shown up in my mailbox, I'm tickled to get one with him looking the most like Neil he ever has.

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  5. OMG!! I'm squeeing for you. I *love* him. How cool to have that picture as inspiration :)

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  6. Jeeeeze, Lori--how you write makes me, an old gramma, WANT that man to come to my house--now! He can just look at me like that while I look at him---hahahaha! But you know I'm serious! Good job, on all counts, Miz FanGirl!

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  7. Claire, He's been in your neck of the woods (well, Sydney, but you're out west right?) these past few days promoting Tangled. I hear he's popular Down Under (and also his costar, Yvonne, of course!).

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  8. Patti, Thanks for that. You crack me up, pal.

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  9. Love the snippet you shared! Your writing really captures the historical voice well and you've said so much about both of them in just those two paragraphs. I can't wait to read more!

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  10. Kav, Thank you! What encouraging words to find early on this Sunday morning. Bless you! I'm looking forward to the day you are published as well; I'm hearing good things from your fellow bloggers about your writing.

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  11. Lori, as a fellow Zach fangirl I am just giddy with happiness for you! Getting a signed photo is SO COOL! :) And I have to say, looking at the photo and then reading the excerpt you shared - well it gave me chills. Perfect "casting." :)

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  12. How exciting, Lori! :) Count me among the Zac fangirls who is tickled pink for you. (I'm planning to take my daughters to see Tangled this week. Can't wait!)
    Did you happen to include an excerpt in your letter to Zac?

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  13. Ruth, I know, I know. And this photo of Zac in particular looks so much like Neil it's uncanny to me. Though most of the time I can manage to find the right "type" for my characters, I've never had a character matched this close to someone with a heartbeat. And of course Kaye took this photo and gave him blue eyes! :)

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  14. Sallie, I half-wish I had, but I don't think I even mentioned I'm a writer. You'll all enjoy Tangled. I've been humming the love song ever since. There's even a line that's a sly nod to CHUCK--at least I took it that way.

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  15. The only fan letter I've ever written was a letter to Stephanie Grace Whitson right after I read Walks the Fire ten or so years ago. And now I'm blessed to be friends with her!

    You're right. We should follow our consciences and write these kinds of letters all the time. They can bring unexpected blessings to us and to the people who receive them (because I'm certain Zac was blessed by your letter!).

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  16. Kaye, I've written letters (or emails) to authors who I'm now friends with, too. That's a huge blessing, isn't it? Joan Shoup (J.M. Hochstetler) is one of those for me. I remember the day well. I was so wrapped up in her American Patriot Series (with Jonathan and Elizabeth) that, as I was going about my day doing some housework, I caught myself praying for them! I went straight to the computer, found an email for Joan, wrote and told her what I'd done. That was the beginning of a lovely friendship.

    Have you read that interview with Zac in Relevant Magazine? He's a breath of fresh air.

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