Is your main character a good guy or a bad guy or somewhere inbetween? Or are they simply trying to cope with what the world throws at them?
I am working on the 6th Monk Buttman book. I’ve seen him and his family and friends through a number of trying circumstances. As a writer, that’s by design: Something interesting has to happen to keep the reader engaged. But as any writer will tell you, after a certain point, you inhabit your characters, you live and breath them, you know their history, and you know their quirks, where they do well, and where they do not.
I purposefully put Monk, and by extension those around him, into problematic situations. For some readers in the early books (1-3), this has to do with Monk being involved with 2 women at the same time. Some don’t like that, while others don’t seem too bothered by it. And this is among the women reading it, if that means anything.
But that was the point: What happens when you find yourself in love with 2 different people at the same time? Social convention says you have to pick one or the other, but social convention is a construct that some adhere to, and some don’t. It is in this context that the character of the character comes out, and it is there that readers tend to judge whether they like or dislike the character.
I meant Monk to be problematic in this regard. He isn’t thoughtless or mean-spirited, certainly not to Agnes, the woman he lives with, or to Judith, with whom he sees on occasion, or if you prefer, on the side. This is complicated by the attitudes of both Agnes and Judith, who are aware of each other, but are struggling with their own insecurities, as is Monk.
It doesn’t help that the 3 of them are not completely honest with themselves, or each other, and are notorious rationalizers, but I think that makes for a more interesting story and makes for more interesting characters.
Will it blow up in their faces? Of course it will, but we all knew that going in. It’s why we write and why we read.
I will say that initially I was surprised by some of the feedback and reviews, particularly those critical of Monk, but that’s to be expected. These aren’t romances, even though love and indeed romance are a part of the story. And some of that may be that the whole story of Monk and Agnes and Judith is not neatly wrapped up in one book, but extends across the first three and influences the others that follow. It may also be because Monk has issues (as we all do) and those issues don’t always make him look particularly good in light of his actions.
But as the writer and the person who knows him best, I can say, that his heart is in the right place.
©2020 David WIlliam Pearce