But I noticed I put in a LOT of thought into creating Marco and Amanda for Honor at Stake, et al. Make them polar opposites, yet very similar. How does each one work within the world I’ve made for them. That sort of thing.
I’ve never done that for Tommy Nolan.
It’s odd. Because I tend to put in a TON of thought into character and biography. Probably too much. My original thought of character creation was to make a character, build a whole biography, wind them up, drop them in a situation, then let them wander.
Every book prior to Hell Spawn was a seat of the pants affair.
Then along came Saint Tommy. And I haven’t needed to do anything for him on that scale.
Sure, I do have more background on him in my head, but that’s only come up within the last few books. And I don’t even mean the books that are published yet. Book #8, Hussar, is where I have the germ of an idea for more of Tommy’s background.
When I wrote Hell Spawn, all I knew about Tommy was that he was married with a kid, he was homeschooled, and more or less educated via the Opus Dei. I mentioned that he and his wife had “family out of state.” When I needed someplace to stash Mariel and the kids during Saint Tommy abroad (City of Shadows, Crusader, and Deus Vult), I invented family in Tennessee.
That was the extent of my knowledge of Tommy’s background.
Yes, there is little bits and pieces of Tommy Nolan scattered throughout my books. A character of the same name has appeared in Honor at Stake, and in A Pius Stand, but they are officially not the same person. Silver Empire wants separate IPs. There’s nothing that forbids reader headcanon.
But even if you included his appearances in both of them, there was nothing that really added to the character.
Now, in part, this was done in order to keep down the cast of characters. Hell Spawn was after some reviewers were confused by the cast of The Pius Trilogy, and even the Love at First Bite series spiraled into a sizable cast.
- The ME, Doctor Sinead Holland
- Father Richard Freeman, PhD
- Father Michael Pearson
- Bokor Baracus (after a fashion)
- Alex Packard
- William Carlton
- Texas Ranger Lloyd Lermon (wait for Hussar)
- Pope Pius XIII
- Aux Bishop Xavier “XO” O’Brian
Now, all 13 of these people have not yet shown up on the page at the same time, or even in the same book. Thankfully. Yet. I don’t have that planned, either, but we’ll see.
The one thing I’ve had to put work into –and I’ve put work into it–was giving him a flaw. Well, a few flaws. He has a temper. He gets angry. He rarely gives into it, so everyone looks at him like he has three heads when he mentions it.
His confessions are like the following.
“Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been a week since my last confession.”“Tommy, honestly, what could you have done in a week?”“I cuffed a child molester. I wanted to hit him upside the head.”“Did you?”“No. But I was probably a little rough with the cuffs.”“… Tommy? Take a breath.”
Over time, I do have things that get to him. And his anger is where demons get at him… because the only anger Tommy feels is safe is anger at himself. You can see where that can go wrong.
The solution to these little dark nights is reason and rationality. There was a guilt trip an editor wanted me to inflict on Tommy in book one. My solution? Directly address it as completely irrational from his perspective, because that would have required him to be omniscient.
But hitting him where it hurts means he feels first, and thinks later. Heh heh heh.
It’s odd. I wrote Hell Spawn in late 2017 for release in late 2018, and now I’ve finished book 10, and I’m having trouble thinking back to what everything was like writing book one. I guess it’s good I’m thinking about it while I can.
If you haven’t read Hell Spawn or any of the others yet, now’s a good time to start, because the series is coming to a head.
Or should I say that all Hell is about to break loose?
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