Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Character Closeup: Michael

Michael Allen is my point of view character throughout all of The Binder's Daughter.  I chose to lead off this series with Kiara, which may seem strange since we see the story through Michael's eyes, but that's how Michael would want it.

Mike is one of the vampires in the novel (there are really only two).  I don't feel I'm spoiling too much by revealing that.  A quick read of the prologue would tell you as much. 

When I was conceptualizing Mike, I knew I wanted to write about a vampire.  I've loved vampires for a long time, dating back to my love affair with the Angel television series.  I was always more of an Angel fan than a Buffy fan, though I liked both series.  Something about a vampire with a soul intrigued me.  And, let's be honest, David Boreanaz is pretty awesome (Also, Charisma Carpenter was/is smoking hot.  Incidentally, I'm a big Bones fan now too.   I've just come across a quotation from creator Joss Whedon comparing Angel to Buffy: "It's a little bit more straightforward action show and a little bit more of a guys' show."  So I guess my affection makes sense, though I'd never really thought of it that way before).

Anyway, vampiric history aside, writing about vampires can be tough.  So much is being done and has been done.  I didn't really want to re-use tired old character tropes for my lead character.  I wasn't setting out to reinvent the wheel, but neither did I want to copy/paste a character.

First of all, Mike is young for a vampire.  He was born in 1964.  Most vampire leads seem to be ancient, so I felt this was a neat little twist on the trope.  Mike, had he aged normally, would just be old enough to be of an age with Kiara's parents.  Since I'm closer to Kiara in age, I looked to my parents for inspiration.  Michael is really patterned after my late father.  I think it makes for an interesting, yet not totally un-relatable relationship.  We're not talking about some guy from a completely different age, awkward with today's conventions.  He's just an "older guy" in spirit. 

Why Michael Allen?  Well, when I looked up popular names in 1964, Michael tops the list.  I also have a brother name Michael.  My father's middle name (and my other brother's) is Allen.  Seemed a good mash up and kept me focus on my inspiration.  When I'm in Mike's head, it's like I'm talking with my father to some extent.

Mike is decently tall at around six feet, and I gave him blond hair.  His natural eye color is brown, though we see him go through several eye colors in the book.  I always liked the concept of Vampires eyes giving them away somehow, be it through straight red irises that emphasize the demonic underpinnings, or something less sinister.  Still, I wanted to have the colors make a certain amount of scientific sense, and I think I explain it well enough in the novel.

A dynamic character, Mike opens up in response to Kiara over the course of the novel.  Like any good romance, the two characters work as compliments to each other.  Where Kiara is rash, Michael is more deliberate.  Where Kiara is playful, Mike is serious.  Yet, he definitely better off for having met her.

I feel like I need to point out that, for a vampire novel, I don't delve very deep into vampire lore.  One of the consequences of Mike being a young vampire and also an extreme recluse because of his unique origins is that he doesn't know a whole lot about the vampire community.  Also, I'm not sure he cares.  He's never been a part of a coven and doesn't really have a desire to live among others of his kind. 

We learn about vampires as he does, to some extent.  I tried to steer clear of laying down any "hard" rules.  All we know, we know through the more-or-less reliable lens of Mike (a perk of the first person viewpoint).  This gives me significant wiggle room in the future for Mike to discover things about his own nature, and I think keeps it from being too "campy."  I didn't really want to make the book about vampires, so much as interesting characters.  Yet another reason why I led off with Kiara.  The story is really hers, seen through Mike's eyes.

Michael's past is more interesting than even he realizes at the end of this first book, and I have some neat things in store for him.  Ultimately, he's my mash up of everything that I find fun in the vampire genre, which makes him a blast to write.  I look forward to messing with more tropes in the future to keep him familiar without being boring.  That's always a challenge in a well-covered genre.

As always, feel free to leave questions if you have them.  I try to avoid spoiler in the main article, but it's open season in comments.  Give me something I can sink my teeth into (Ha! Get it? Teeth! Ha! *groan*)...


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