When I base characters on real people, I pay particular attention to their childhood. I believe our first fourteen years are the basis of much of what comes afterward. We build on a solid foundation, or we spend years trying to repair the damage, or we wander in the wreckage of those years.
When writing about Wyatt Earp in both Doc and Epitaph, a single source allowed me to glimpse the father who raised the famous Earp brothers: the Sarah Rousseau Diary. I think Wyatt spent most of his adulthood trying to be a better man than the one who raised him, and I’ve written an article about this for True West Magazine’s April issue. Editor Bob Boze Bell has just posted a very nice teaser about it.