John Clark here for what I hope will be a fun group post. Back in the mists of antiquity, when Little Egypt was a mere slip of a girl and bikinis had yet to be invented (well at least ten years ago), I created our first family website. One part consisted of a fantasy village with all the interesting real and fictional folk I’d love to have as neighbors. This time around, my question to fellow MCW bloggers is this: If you were writing yourself into a new book with no restrictions and could include up to three fictional characters, who would you pick and why?
Since most of my writing includes fantasy elements, I’m starting with someone many of you probably never heard of, Druss The Legend, from the late David Gemmell’s Drenai series written between 1984 and 2004. There were ten books in the series and I loved every one. Druss is the grandson of Bardan the Slayer, a psychotic madman driven insane by the demon residing within his cursed axe, Snaga the Sender. Well, when grampa is nuts because of what hides in his axe, you know you’re going to have an interesting life and Druss does. He’s got an awesome sense of self irony and can wield any weapon lying about.
He’ll be joined by Matt Scudder and David Robichaud, my all time favorite fictional mystery characters. Since they’re both recovering alcoholics I’ll have plenty in common and neither one will be someone to worry about when bullets start flying. Both of these men share that sense of self-irony I like in Druss, so the conversations, particularly when things get edgy should be pretty funny, not to mention quote worthy. Where are we headed? Rumor has it that something really evil is happening in a nearby abandoned city. While this is more Druss territory, I think Matt And Dave won’t have any trouble adapting, particularly since they saw plenty of things late at night when they were skirting blackout territory, that exist only in the nightmare world so familiar to chronic drunks. Trust me on this, there are monsters of the mind that dwarf anything you’ve ever seen in slasher flicks. Here’s where we’re starting.
And here’s where we will eventually face demons, both real and imagined.
Kate Flora: Well, John, I’m really torn about this one because I have two alternative scenaria. If I get to be the protagonist, then in a ‘let’s have some fun with the plot’ mystery story, I’d steal the sidekicks from three of my fellow/sister mystery writers. I would have Robert Parker’s Hawk, from the Spencer series, Janet Evanovich’s Ranger, from her Stephanie Plum series, and Dennis Lehane’s character, Bubba Rogowski, from his Kenzie and Gennaro series. I’ve always been fascinated by the writer’s choice to have a good “bad guy” to do the dirty work, and here I’d have a trio of them. My one worry, not as a writer, but as a protagonist, would be whether three such badass renegades could possibly work together or whether I’d be out there, needing backup from someone utterly ruthless, and they’d either be arguing among themselves about who got to be the back-up, or off attending to their own various nefarious activities, and unavailable.
In a more light-hearted vein, I’d play out a fantasy I’ve had for year. I’d still get to be the protagonist, even though I’m too short to qualify in this version, and the gals who’d have my back would be my own too-headstrong and brave Thea Kozak, along with two other slightly more rattle-brained protagonists (IMHO), Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. For years, I’ve fantasized about how these three would interact if they ever got to meet, so this writing exercise could be pretty hilarious. In their own ways, all three of these women are caretakers. I imagine the book would begin in a bar. That Thea would be trying to organize the other two, that some good looking men (perhaps including Ranger) and some lapses of judgment would be involved that would really set a rocking plot in motion. As Janet E. once said of Thea: “Thea Kozak is terrific, in-your-face, stand-up gal. Stephanie Plum and Thea Kozak would have a lot to say to each other.”
Kaitlyn Dunnett here. Interesting, Kate, that you’d pick Ranger. If I were sticking to my own (Kaitlyn’s, that is) genre, he’d definitely be on the list of folks I’d want to have my back. My problem was thinking of two other likely characters to team with him, assuming that I was in the story and in need of protection and I was making my choice from the cozy/humorous/traditional reading I tend to stick with. The characters in those tend to be intuitive or good at puzzle solving or just plain lucky and not so good at handling dangerous situations.
So, like John, I’m jumping into fantasy for my answer. The other genre I most frequenlty turn to for entertainment is the paranormal. I’m going to put the “me” character in jeopardy from the evil forces of the universe and pick Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s excellent mystery series to protect me. At his side will be Buffy Summers (aka Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who appears not only in Joss Whedon television series but also in numerous spinoff books and graphic novels. And third, I’d pick homicide cop Eve Dallas from J. D. Robb’s futuristic detective series. With two kick-ass heroines and a wizard at my back, I should be extraordinarily well protected from any danger.
John here: What a neat combo Harry Dresden and Buffy. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Dresden and Druss met in an East Village (or maybe an Old Port) bar to discuss strategy and the best ways to dispatch the undead.
Barb Ross: Who’d have my back? First I would have Barbara Havers from Elizabeth George’s Thomas Lynley series. Barbara doesn’t let many people into her life, but when she does, she is absolutely 100% loyal, and dogged in pursuit of justice. For brains, I’d have to go with, who else, Sherlock? No one is smarter. To him it’s just a game, a puzzle, but if I’m innocent, who cares? So with street-smarts and smart-smarts taken care of, I think we need some muscle. And, for that, like Kate, I have to go with Dennis Lehane’s Bubba Rogowski. I love those early Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennaro books.
I can’t imagine how these folks would work with one another. Sounds like a joke. A sociopath, and psychopath and a highly moral woman walk into a bar. I hope they would learn to respect their complimentary and prodigious gifts. If not, I guess that’s why I’m the leader (though it’s hard to imagine Sherlock allowing himself to be led.)
Lea Wait: Might as well go for the gold here! Well, while dreaming (and we are going for a mystery here ..) I claim Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Calm in the face of danger, but good with a gun. Father figure? OK, I’ll go with it. Has terrific tastes in restaurants, especially French ones, and a girl’s got to eat. Plus — he has a great moral compass. So, he’s definitely in. But, having placed him in my corner, I need someone younger, someone sane and trustworthy, a great detective, flexible and strong enough for action around boats or cars, someone who can jump at least medium-height buildings in two leaps (not one, because he’s all too human ..) I’ll go with P.J. Parrish’s Louis Kincaid. And not to be sexist, and because in this world I’d need a computer geek and someone who thinks a little bit (or, maybe more than a little bit) out of the box … give me Lisbeth Salander. Why not? Somebody has to handle her. I’ll give it a go. Gamache and Kincaid can help. Inter-cultural, inter-racial, young and old, 2 guys, 2 gals … I think we’d make a great team!
Kate Flora: Love your team, Lea. And thanks, John, for creating this exercise.
Readers: Share your dream team with us, and we’ll do another post in February, sharing Part II with the world.