Allan is gearing up for a tour for The Lonely Mile on Pump Up Your Book in September, but we got him to come visit us first! Enjoy this awesome post on creating a thriller hero!
Creating a Thriller Hero
By Allan Leverone
When I wrote THE LONELY MILE, I knew I wanted to create a hero you could root for. That’s no surprise, though, just about every thriller writer wants the reader to have someone to root for. But I wanted more than just a cardboard hero, a Superman standing tall as the bullets bounced off his chest. I wanted a character you could relate to, like you would a close friend or a family member. I wanted to create someone real.
The obvious question is how do you accomplish that?
The answer, at least in my opinion, is to look at people in real life who have been forced to face incredible challenges and overcome them, and to learn from those people. The thing they all have in common is that none of them wear a superhero’s cape. They’re not perfect. They all have faults and foibles, just like the rest of us.
They are us. They are ordinary people who are called upon to do extraordinary things. They carry petty jealousies and do stupid things, they doubt themselves and sometimes shoot themselves in the foot, sometimes figuratively and occasionally literally.
This was how I tried to construct Bill Ferguson in THE LONELY MILE. He’s a regular guy, owner of two hardware stores struggling against a down economy and a changing business model to avoid bankruptcy. He’s divorced, his marriage a casualty of the endless hours spent trying to keep his business afloat.
A regular guy. And when this regular guy stumbles upon the kidnapping of a young girl, he doesn’t hesitate—he does the right thing, just as most of like to think we would do. He steps in and breaks up the kidnapping. He’s successful, too, saving the girl from a horrific fate, but in doing so, unwittingly thrusts his own child directly onto the radar of an amoral sociopath.
When his daughter then disappears, a victim of the very same sociopath, Bill Ferguson again reacts the way most of us would. He’s overcome with guilt. His daughter is gone—kidnapped and maybe even dead—and it’s entirely his fault. If he had only minded his own business, kept his head down when confronted the kidnapping of a stranger, his own child would still be home, safe and unharmed.
He struggles against the paralyzing effects of that guilt even though he knows he did the right thing, would do it again, in fact, if the situation arose again. Even as he works with the beautiful FBI Special Agent, Angela Canfield, in charge of the hunt for the kidnapper.
I believe the reader will pull for Bill Ferguson as he races to save his child, not because he’s invincible, but rather because he is not. Because as he struggles to make sense of a horrific situation, as he desperately clings to the fading hope that his child is still alive, the reader can relate. She knows she would be feeling exactly the same things if, God forbid, she was caught up in the same situation.
I believe that’s how you build a thriller hero the reader can relate to. Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and if you decide to give THE LONELY MILE a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts when you’ve finished.
Allan Leverone is a three-time Derringer Award Finalist for excellence in short mystery fiction as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. His short fiction has been featured in numerous print and online magazines, including Needle: A Magazine of Noir, A Twist of Noir, Mysterical-E, Shroud Magazine, Twisted Dreams and many more.
His first novel, a thriller titled FINAL VECTOR, will be released by Medallion Press on February 1, 2011. Allan lives in Londonderry, NH with his wife Sue, three children, one adorable granddaughter and a cat who has used up eight lives.
Synopsis : When struggling hardware store owner Bill Ferguson witnesses a kidnapping in progress, he reacts instinctively, breaking up the crime and saving a young girl. But the kidnapper, a sociopath known as the “I-90 Killer,” escapes and vows revenge, targeting Ferguson’s own daughter as his next victim. Now one terrified father must unravel a plot that may go much deeper than he realizes, racing against time to save his only child from an unthinkable fate.