So I’ve said a lot about creating character and how we should “know” our characters well enough to ensure their actions are logical and their motivations are realistic. This doesn’t mean you spend hours before writing the story doing this. I find that I get to know my characters better if I let them unfold as I write. However, at some point during the process, I pause to sit down with the major players and do a character interview. This is usually done in my head, but I thought why not show you all how simple and kind of fun it is to do this? So, every now and then, I’m going to post a character interview. You haven’t read these stories (most of you anyway), so if my interview piques your curiosity, then I know I’ve done my job, right? Right. I’ll start with a character you’ve all met here on The Edge; Jackson Murphy.
Book Title: The Legend of Jackson Murphy
Character Name: Jackson Murphy
Age: Early 40’s
I’m a self-made man who built a construction company from the ground up. My education isn’t spectacular, but I’ve got balls and that’s why I have what I do today. I avoid my family, because most of them are pathetic and have nothing to offer me aside from headaches and bullshit, and my marriage is going down the tubes. Hobbies? Well, I like to make money and have sex. I’m not into fitness or any of that shit, except maybe to keep myself in shape for the sex. I mean, those young girls like a man with stamina, am I right? Of course I am.
What kind of question is this? I know I said I’d cooperate, but seriously, this is getting too touchy-feely for my tastes. You’re just going to whine and nag until I answer, though, so let’s just get this shit over with. I’m obviously intelligent and clever, or I wouldn’t be where I am. I don’t let emotions rule me, so I’d say I’m a pretty level-headed guy. Unless you try to take what’s mine. You do that and I might get aggressive, even homicidal. But you’d have it coming.
I don’t have any. I don’t believe in God or the general kindness of strangers, whatever the fuck that means. I think you gotta look out for number one, or you’ll get left behind. So, whether something is ethical or not shouldn’t be viewed with as much weight as whether that something is going to get you where you want to be. Also, men are not meant to be monogamous. That’s bullshit. Marriage is what’s wrong with the world today. I’m telling you, if we got rid of marriage, people would be so much better off. Marriage and bisexuals. I’ve got nothing against the gays, but the bi’s are just greedy fuckers.
Emotions? Give me a break. What—I have to answer this shit too? Fine, I’ll play your stupid game. I’m a confident guy, because I should be. I’ve got the shit to back up that confidence too. I don’t cry or try to delve into my innermost feelings. Who has time for that nonsense anyway? I’m not so much outgoing as I am determined to get what I want. If that means I have to put myself out there, I will. In general, though, I’d rather not deal with people. The majority of the population is stupid. Most people are assholes. Who’d want to deal with that shit if you don’t have to?
Am I happy? I would be if I could get these mooches off my frigging back. Every time I turn around there’s a hand in my damn pockets. I hate my wife, could take or leave my kids, and I just want everyone to leave me and my money alone.
Money. I want to keep my money. That’s all I want. Okay, I want to end my marriage too, but I want to do it as cheaply as possible. That’s why I figured divorce was out of the question. A funeral now, that costs me nothing. But funerals, it turns out, have some repercussions, so then my motivating desire kind of became staying alive, and out of jail.
Not a George Clooney or Clive level of hotness, but definitely a working man’s Brad Pit level of attractive. I’m not ugly. Women like me.
What do you fear?
Nothing. Okay, maybe jail. Tony’s scary too, but he’s not that smart. The mob really needs to start using hitmen with a touch of education. They’d be unstoppable then, but what do I know? I’m just a target.
Do you have secrets?
I have many secrets, and just so you know, I plan to keep them. But I can give you a general idea of the main ones. Let’s see, there’s Jenny, Ray, Thorne, Whitney, Michelle, James…then there’s the mob shit, which was profitable for a while, until that fat ass detective got her hairy nose into my business.
My inspiration? What the fuck kind of shit is this? My inspiration is greed. Is that what you want to hear? Honestly. Are we done here? Good.
Excerpt “The Legend of Jackson Murphy”:
Morning brought sunshine and silence. The kids left for school before Jack even made it to the shower. He came down the stairs, thinking tomorrow he’d be going commando if she didn’t do the laundry. He’d be damned if he’d ask her for anything.
Jenny moved in silence about the kitchen. She’d made just enough coffee for herself. Bitch. The entertainment section of the paper was spread out in front of her but the rest of the paper wasn’t in its usual crumpled heap. He looked to the door and bit his lip. She’d taken out the gossip column and thrown the rest of his paper outside, in the recycle bin.
He made his own coffee and retrieved his crumpled paper from the blue bin on the porch next to the door. As he moved to step back inside, the neighbor across the street stared. Nosy cunt.
Jack resisted the urge to have a pissing match with the likes of her. He would not be drawn in, not now. He walked back inside and joined Jenny in the kitchen.
Sitting in front of her at the small table, Jack made as much fuss as possible while straightening the business section and slurping his properly made coffee.
Jenny did her best to ignore him. He could tell she struggled with the effort by the way her nostrils flared while she read her section of the paper. She was no match for him, and finally looked up, her lips pressed into a thin line to stop herself from yelling. Jenny hated slurpers.
“Do you have to slurp, Jack? Really, it’s annoying.”
“Well, every time you breathe I’m annoyed, so we’re even.” He smiled and returned to his paper. Jack wasn’t really reading. Who could concentrate with tension hanging in the room like thick acrid smoke? Even if he could ignore that, the metaphorical knife that dug into his throat would not be dismissed.
When sniffling sounded from Jenny’s side of the table, he gave up the pretense and stared.
“Where did we go wrong?” she bawled.
Crying usually worked for Jenny so he wasn’t surprised that she’d resort to that. Still, it irked him that she would assume he gave a damn about her feelings.
“Why don’t you love me anymore?”
“Why don’t you love me? It’s not like you give a shit about this marriage, you’re just angry that I’m not giving you what you want. Stop the theatrics; I’m not bothered in the least by your tears.”
Jenny continued to sniffle as Jack attempted to return to his paper.
“I don’t want your money. I just want things to be the way they were.”
“I think it’s a little late for that, Jen. When you decided to spread your legs for your boyfriend, that was the last straw.”
“I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“How could you think such a thing?” she pressed on, “I want to work this out, I’d never betray you.”
“Really? Forgive me for not believing you but you’re a shitty liar. There’s nothing left to work out anyway. I’m done.”
“Even if I was having an affair—which I’m not—what about you? You’ve been sleeping with that slut for God knows how long. You never miss a chance to rub it in my face. I just—I, oh damn it. Please, I don’t want us to be over. Just let’s try to make this marriage good again.”
Jack eyed her tearful face. She sure looked sincere but he wasn’t born yesterday. Those looks between her and Ray set his defenses up. She had something up her sleeve, but what? Poisoning his food? Cutting his brake lines? It might be wise to play along and see what she’d do.
“All right, what do you want from me?”
“We should take a second honeymoon, just you and me. We could go on a cruise or something.”
Aha! She’d push him off the boat and leave him to drown. Well, not if he pushed her first. “All right, you make the plans but I’m not promising anything. Get rid of the boyfriend while you’re at it.”
“There is no one else, Jack.”
“Whatever.” He sipped his coffee.
“This won’t work if you won’t try.”
“I’ll try,” he lied. “Make the plans and I’ll be there. I gotta get to work.”
“Come on Jack; can’t you just be home one day each week?”
God, how he hated whiners. “I don’t work Sundays. What more do you want?” He stood, leaving his cup and the paper on the table.
“Are you home on Sundays?”
“Can we talk about this later? I really do need to go into work. I’ll come home early if that makes you happy.” Or shuts you up.
“Should I book the trip? Can you take two weeks off?”
“Two weeks? No, I can take a week, but not two.”
Her eyes welled up with tears again.
Although he didn’t care about her, her fake grief gave him a good excuse to give in. He couldn’t stand criers. Crying showed weakness and weakness was contagious. “Come on, give a guy a break. I’ll go, but I can’t spare two weeks. It’s my business and if I’m not there I could lose out on jobs. Ray can’t bid, he’d put us in the poor house for sure.”
“You don’t give Ray enough credit. He’d do fine.”
I bet… “A week. End of discussion.”
Jack left as she sputtered her arguments. All that talk about second honeymoons and making it work made him nauseous. Next thing he knew, she’d want to have sex.
He wouldn’t be on any cruise, but it made a good cover now that he considered it. How could a man kill his wife while planning a second honeymoon? Only people in love went on second honeymoons and people in love didn’t kill each other.