Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Can't help lovin' that man of mine.
When I first started writing - and believe me I had no idea then that ten years later I'd still be doing it! - I wanted the characters I wrote about to be people I actually could like, be friends with, perhaps love.So where better than to find those characters among the people I know, knew, my friends and lovers - past and present?
My very first book - A Portrait of Phillip - needed two strong protagonists that had to hold the readers' interest from beginning to end. Not only that, they had to gain the readers' affections so that they longed for them to survive the ordeals I invented and come out the other side, happy and whole.
Taking the advice of a friend, I gave Peter Brandon, the main character an interesting career, an accomplished artist of portraits and landscapes, already well known for his craft and headed for real fame when tragedy strikes. Facing the death of a loved one can make or break a person's will. When Peter wakes from his coma of three years and finds out that the man he had loved all his life had been murdered I could have written him as a weeper and wailer and one who was ready to give up. But instead I drew on the strengths I had seen some of my friends display when hit by tragedy and made him strong - and angry - and determined to find the ones responsible for Phillip's death.
Enter Jeff Stevens. Now Jeff is everything I think a hero should be. Of course, he's hot looking, tall, broad shouldered, hair that always falls perfectly back into place no matter what he's been up to, piercing gray eyes, full sensual lips - and totally complete down there. But Jeff is also a compassionate, honest and intelligent man with an innate sense of fair play. He's been through the school of hard knocks - a gay man in the LAPD - he couldn't have survived if not for his steel like fortitude, and his sense of humor.When Peter and Jeff meet there is a clash of wills along with a flicker of attraction. An ember that becomes a burning passion...
If you're wondering where on earth I met guys like these two, well, of course I didn't. They are a mix of so many of the friends I have made over the years in my varied career. I think the police officer I met in my youthful years in London would be surprised to know he's been featured in so many of my books.
Peter and Jeff became the templates on which I drew the protagonists for most of my other stories.
When I wrote my first vampire novel, My Vampire and I, Marcus Lucius Verano, Master Vampire, was in effect, an undead Jeff. The qualities I found to be so important in Jeff's character are mirrored in Marcus'. Although perhaps mirrored isn't the right word choice...uh, no reflection, that sort of vampire thing. You had to be there... Anyway, he's all that - intelligence garnered over eighteen hundred years give or take a decade or two, totally hot - and he can do something Jeff cannot - Marcus can fly!
Somewhere in between those two is Nick Fallon from my detective series. Nick's got some of those same qualities, but he's a bit more rugged and rangy in his physicality, a bit grumpy at times, somewhat of a prude when the conversation gets too raunchy. He's maybe not as philanthropic as Jeff and Marcus - if you cross him watch out, but if he considers you his friend, he's yours 'til the end. Of all my male characters Nick's the one I wish I could actually have in my life - or maybe the fantasy life most of we writers seem to have.
When my partner Phil and I are curled up on the sofa watching TV or sharing one of our endless conversations, I get to thinking that I wouldn't trade him for any of those other guys. After all, I've got them all right here beside me - except of course for the vampire thingy.
Hey Phil, what big teeth you have!