My first thought when I saw this question was, I must be reading the wrong books. There are characters in books that might be worth leaving my flesh-and-blood husband for? I closed my eyes and considered the ones I’d encountered in novels recently…
The Prospects: Ray and his sidekick Manny (from Dope Thief by Dennis Tafoya)
Pros: Ray is kind to his stepmother and clearly has a good heart, and Manny can be pretty funny.
Cons: For starters, they are actually cons. Their racket involves shaking down low-level drug dealers by pretending to be cops. That gets them points for creativity, but loses more points for ethics. Also, they’re both heroin addicts so that’s an instant strikeout. I know I’ll never find a fictional boyfriend if I’m too picky, but a girl has to have some standards.
The Prospect: Paul Cole (from Memory by Donald Westlake)
Pros: He’s handsome — the man was an actor, after all — and as the book goes on, he gets very fit from all the manual labor he does.
Cons: He’s doing that manual labor because he’s lost most of his memory thanks to a beating he got for sleeping with another man’s wife. So, when he had his memory, he was a cad; after he lost it, he’s just lost. Next.
The Prospect: Kyle Nevin (from Pariah by Dave Zeltserman)
Pros: Superficial charm that allows him to seduce his victims.
Cons: The book is called Pariah for a reason. That reason is Kyle.
That’s when I set the books aside. If Dr. Phil saw what I was reading, he’d tell me I was making my own problems. How was I going to be seduced by a fictional hero if all I did was hang out with fictional lowlifes? I needed leading men… which I would find in the movies! Whoever came up with the question didn’t say fictional character in a book, did they? So a fictional character from a movie should do just as well. In fact, there was a very attractive man in the last movie I watched…
The Prospect: Charlie Oakley (from Shadow of a Doubt, played by Joseph Cotten)
Pros: Sweet to his sister and her children. In fact, gives them generous gifts of jewelry engraved with curious inscriptions. A handsome charmer who’s very good at getting his way.
Cons: Only visits his sister and her family when police start closing in on him for suspicion of murder. Seems to have a temper. Hands twitch strangely near certain women’s throats.
Okay, maybe the movies weren’t the way to go for me, either. Deep down, I know the real problem is with what I’m writing, because that’s affecting what I read and watch. When I was working my first novel, The Damage Done, I pictured the main character, Lily Moore, as a fan of classic film noir. After watching The Killers, I decided she looked like Ava Gardner. It fit in a funny way, because Lily had fled the
In The Damage Done, Lily is called home from
Even though I’ve been immersed in fictitious love triangles and hanging out with imaginary con artists, I realize that there is some part of me that must have been yearning for a perfect man. I say this, because there is one character in The Damage Done who could make me swoon. His name is Jesse, and he’s a Gregory Peck-lookalike who mixes a mean cocktail and is a great shot. He’s fond of quoting Will Rogers, loves 1940s film noir, and appreciates vintage glamour. He’s not like my husband, who rolls his eyes when I try to show him my latest thrift-shop find. “Oh, look. Another dress,” is about as much of a reaction as I get from him. Jesse would never do that. Not only would he admire my taste, he’d probably go shopping with me. Now that’s a fictional character I could fall for.
There’s just one little problem. Jesse wouldn’t be interested in me as anything but a friend. My husband, on the other hand, would be just his type.
Thanks again, Hilary! And good luck out there with The Damage Done! Happy Launch Day!
Here's a wee bit more here about The Damage Done:
Lily Moore, a successful travel writer, fled to Spain to get away from her troubled, drug-addicted younger sister, Claudia. But when Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother’s suicide, Lily must return to New York to deal with the aftermath.
The situation shifts from tragic to baffling when the body at the morgue turns out to be a stranger’s. The dead woman had been using Claudia’s identity for months. The real Claudia had vanished, reappearing briefly on the day her impostor died. As Claudia transforms from victim to suspect in the eyes of the police, Lily becomes determined to find her before they do.
Is Claudia actually missing, or is she playing an elaborate con game? And who’s responsible for the body that was found in the bathtub? An obsessive ex-lover? An emotionally disturbed young man with a rich and powerful father? Or Lily’s own former fiancé, who turns out to be more deeply involved with Claudia than he admits?
As Lily searches for answers, a shadowy figure stalks her and the danger to her grows. Determined to learn the truth at any cost, she is unprepared for the terrible toll it will take on her and those she loves.