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Writing a Richly Textured Main Character for PHOENIX
I have always written under the general assumption that ‘It wouldn’t happen . . . but it could.’ All of my stories have that element to them. The apocalypse in RESONANCE is entirely plausible scientifically. Even my ‘Grudge Ninja’ in VENGEANCE uses only moves that I have seen done, or ones that martial artists and thieves can pull off. She’s not superhuman.
So when it came time to sit down and write my most grounded-in-reality story yet, I wanted a protagonist who was ‘real.’ I needed Jason to have the right kind of texture to his life. Personally, I’m not good at everything I do, and I’ve never met anyone who is. We all have talents, we have skills we work at, things we value, and things we don’t. There are things we don’t understand. (I love organic chemistry, but I once watched a seamstress make a slipcover for my couch and it boggled my mind. She thought she had no special skill, but I would argue that.) I think we are all this way and I wanted my characters to have that same feel to them. I wanted readers to believe Jason could really be out there, fighting fires for the Southfield Fire Department.
So I started with a main character who was really ‘human.’ Jason is a hero to the boys he pulls from a burning house. He’s clueless to what his girlfriend needs or wants from him. And he’s a pain in the butt to the man who is trying to cover an old crime that Jason keeps digging up.
Jason is also a man with friends. He doesn’t have the skills to find the brother he lost in his own childhood fire . . . a brother he doesn’t even remember. So Jason turns to his friends for help. He does what all of us do, he makes a deal. And like it does for many of us, this one turns around and bites him.
As a writer, I have to know my characters well before I start to put them into print. I know what foods Jason likes and dislikes. I know what he reads and what he watches on TV (or what he doesn’t, because his girlfriend took all his furniture, including his TV, when she left him!) I had to know what kind of person he was before I started writing. So Jason is good at taking action, and not so good at speaking. He’s asked to give interviews about the boys he saved from the fire and he’s very uncomfortable talking to reporters and so he’s pretty bad at it.
Jason isn’t MacGuyver, with a wad of gum and soldering iron in his pocket. He isn’t Batman, with a gadget for every sticky situation. He’s a guy with a brother who isn’t dead after all. He’s an adult with a fire in his past that’s looking more and more suspicious . . . and how he reacts, what he does, will determine his fate.
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.