On the NCP Authors Blog, Donna Grant wrote about what gave her the inspiration for her hero and quoted a couple of film stars as visual triggers. With me, it's different. I rarely visualize the hero until the writing process begins, long after he appears in my mind as a person.
In "New Blood" the hero emerged from the obituary of a 107 year-old WWI soldier when I began wondering what sort of a world he would have created, given the power. In "Mitchell's Valley", he was a composite of two men separated by a century, each the product of his times. "A Soldier's Woman" had a hero drawn from conversations with SAS troopers over a number of years and experience in dealing with Asian engineering companies. In "A Fair Trade", he sprang from the heroine's past rather than his own. Stuart Ferguson of "Snow Drifter" was a match for my younger daughter (A ski instructor), while the hero of "Beyond the Barriers" grew from musing over the changes in professional motor cycle riders over the years.
By the time they reach the pages, they have grown naturally from their histories, their general appearance the product of heredity and their environment and I start filling in the details as they become relevant and I rarely have a full visualization until the job is finished and I'm reading the submission copy. Until then, I probably wouldn't recognize them in the street.
It's a strange process, isn't it?