Month: October 2014

What a Character!

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My last couple of posts have been about the characters in my novels.  I guess you may wonder what I consider to be a good character.  I like ordinary people who are thrust into situations where they have to do extraordinary things.  Superheroes are fun, but they already have extraordinary powers.  I would expect them to win the battle, or survive the disaster,  or save the endangered rainforests.  I would expect a 6 foot 6 inch ex-military martial arts expert who is a proficient marksman to be able to take out the bad guys whenever he wants.

But what about John Brown, mild-mannered tax accountant who lives in Tongonoxie, Kansas and never fired a gun in his life?  John is getting a divorce, drinks too much, watches House of Cards on Netflix, and hangs out at Louie’s Bar and Grill every Saturday night because he likes their peel-and-eat shrimp.  He may be just a bit overweight, but when he survives the alien invasion apocalypse and gathers a few of his drinking buddies from Louie’s, he becomes a force to reckon with.

I like flawed characters.  Give me someone who is a little afraid to try something dangerous over someone who rushes in without giving it a second thought because he/she is confident of his/her abilities to tackle the job at hand.  Give me someone who shakes in his/her boots when confronted with a horrifying alien but eventually accepts the battle despite the fear, instead of a hardass colonel that can organize a militia from the remnants of humanity to make a ferocious fighting force.

The characters that come to my mind are not always the most moral or brave or intelligent person.  Sometimes they lie, cheat, run away, cry, bitch and complain.  Sometimes they fail.  Sometimes they feel like giving up because the fight, or life, is too hard, but in the end, they find something within themselves to help meet the challenge put before them.

There are an incredible variety of personalities in the world.  I want to see them in the books I read and the stories I write.

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A Lion or a Lamb

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I will continue on with my series of character descriptions from my books.

A Gathering of Lions and Lambs

A Gathering of Lions and Lambs has a large cast of characters, each unique and likable (and maybe a few unlikable) in his/her own way.  Jacob Trimble is the main character and my favorite one from all my stories so far.  His story begins when he is a sophomore in high school.  He’s a typical teenager.  He plays high school baseball, makes decent grades but doesn’t put a great amount of effort into studying, has a girlfriend.  There are no problems at home (except that his younger sister is a brat).  He looks forward to a typical future career and life.  He’s not perfect, of course.  Jacob has anxiety issues.  He has had them as long as he can remember, but he has learned how to cope with them.

Then Jacob’s world is blown away.  Not literally, and not immediately.  An ebola-like virus becomes airborne and spreads across continents, uncontrollable and deadly.  When it comes to his quiet Nashville suburb, Jacob witnesses first-hand the end of the world.  Everyone he knows dies, and he expects to die with them.

But he doesn’t.  Unlike everyone else, he recovers from the disease, and that puts him over the edge.  His anxiety and fear push him into depression.  Only his memories of his family keep him from committing suicide.  Jacob is alone, but he survives.

He then finds other survivors.  They are young, like him; all under the age of twenty-one.  There aren’t many, but as time passes, he finds enough to make a difference.  Humanity may not have to become extinct.  Jacob now becomes a leader, a quality he had not put much faith in before this; and he finds out that leadership is a heavy burden.  He is torn between his responsibility to help others and his desire to meet his own needs.  His anxiety issues return.  Fear, guilt, and self-doubt fill his days and nights.  He is lonely and forlorn, but Jacob battles his personal demons to become the best leader that he can be, no matter the cost to himself.

And the cost is high.