Evan Quinn, Antihero

Antihero: a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Matt Damon as Tom Ripley in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999)

Matt Damon as Tom Ripley in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)

They are the protagonists you love to hate.  Protagonists that are more villains than the archetypal heroes.  They exhibit clinical narcissism and grandiosity.  They usually lack the self-awareness necessary for change.  Are they capable of growing and developing self-awareness?  What would it take?

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with antiheroes.  I wrote about them in 2010 here.  I’ve been intensely interested in how a human being becomes such a person.  With my antihero Evan Quinn, I wanted to explore three things: how an American would react to a totalitarian dictatorship, how an American would deal with emigration to another country under circumstances echoing Russian emigrants who left the USSR in the 1970′s and 1980′s, and what could happen with someone whose PTSD is left untreated.

Americans now are more familiar with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of our military veterans and their suffering with it.  PTSD is not unique only to war veterans, especially those who saw combat.  Anyone who experiences extreme psychological trauma in which he feels threatened and powerless to protect or defend himself can develop PTSD.  This includes children who experience physical or sexual or psychological abuse, accident survivors, domestic abuse survivors, survivors of crime, and survivors of natural disasters.  It’s important for the survivors of trauma to talk about their experience and how they felt as soon after the trauma as possible.  Talking begins the process of psychological healing from the trauma.  So when the media descends on a town destroyed by a tornado, for example, and starts interviewing the survivors, that is helpful somewhat.  The media, however, are not trained to guide the survivors through processing their experience and feelings so they don’t get stuck in the psychological flashback loop characteristic of PTSD.  Not everyone will develop PTSD after major psychological trauma.  I don’t know why.  I have not heard that researchers have figured that out either.

Perceval’s Secret is the beginning of my exploration into Evan Quinn’s psychological present and how that affects his choices and his life.  We don’t like to think too much about the powerful effects our past experiences have on our lives, but they make us who we are.  That’s also true with Evan.  Joseph Caine and his family provide a sanctuary for him that, I hope, may give him what he needs to break out of his PTSD.  However, in the subsequent four novels, I really put him through the ringer as far as his choices are concerned.  In Perceval’s Secret, he only begins to notice the effect having power and control exerts over him.  I have the final scene of the final novel in my mind, although I’m still uncertain how it will end.  The question for the Perceval series is this: Does Evan Quinn have the capability to redeem himself, and if so, how?

Other antiheroes have been far from redemption.  Their creators have seen them as psychopaths, incapable of human connection and empathy, and without conscience.  Dexter Morgan of the Dexter series of novels (and TV shows, although these took a different direction than the novels) is an example, or Tom Ripley in Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels.  Hannibal Lecter.  Looking farther back in literature, there’s Kafka’s K, Camus’s The Stranger, Holden Caulfield, Tyler Durden and the Narrator in Fight Club, Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s mysteries, Scarlett O’Hara as one of the few women anti-heroes, and yes, even Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.  There’s also a long list in film and TV of antiheroes.

What makes an antihero?  What in a character’s past makes her the villain in her own story?  That’s part of Evan’s story, too.  Not many antihero creators dive into that murky sea.  I believe his past holds the key to Evan’s healing.  Now if I can just convince Evan….

 

 

Marketing: What is it, Really?

Marketing shouts the news that your story or book is available to be bought and read by others.  It is a part of the business side of a writer’s life.  I used to work in advertising and marketing, but that doesn’t make this work any easier for me.  I’m happiest writing my stories, not immersed in the business of writing.  But writers need to market their creative work.  At the moment, I’m looking at what I can do to get the news out there and encourage people to buy my novel, Perceval’s Secret.  (Have you bought your copy yet?)

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

Internet Marketing: I’ve sent out e-mail blasts to announce my novel’s publication and where to buy it.  I’ve announced publication on both my blogs.  I’ve created a Facebook public page for the series of novels and update it often.  Announcements have tweeted out on Twitter.  This marketing has been my first wave.  Now I need to move on to what I consider really hardcore stuff.

To my fellow writer/bloggers: I will provide you with a free copy if you will write a review of Perceval’s Secret at your blogs.  Just send me an e-mail at the address under “contact” with the name of your blog and detailing your interest.

The Postcards: My marketing budget is miniscule.  I decided to pick one tool that I could use in different ways.  So, I put together a postcard, book cover on front and short synopsis on back,  and printed it at VistaPrint (great prices!).  I will use the postcard in the following ways:

  • To mail out to people I know who are not online.
  • To mail out to orchestra musicians and staff — I need to make a list of the orchestras I want to target and assemble my mailing list
  • To use as a “business card” that I hand out everywhere I go — I keep a stash on hand when I go out
  • To use as a bookmark to give to people — this seems counter to the whole e-book experience, but I’m thinking that people still read regular print books, too.

Advertising: As I said, my marketing budget is miniscule.  Any ads I place I must create myself using the book cover art.  At the moment, I’m looking at the following for ad placements:

  • My college alma mater, plus a mention in the alumni magazine
  • Any clubs or associations of which I’m a member and their print publications

Promotion: I plan to write and distribute press releases to book sections of a selection of newspapers, probably those in the same cities as the orchestras I’ll target.  I’m available for book club meetings also.  I don’t own an e-reader, so doing in-person readings are not on my schedule right now.

Word of Mouth: Tell everyone you know about Perceval’s Secret!  I am.

Marketing Help: With the little money I do have, I plan to contact AuthorBuzz to find out what they can do for me.

Additional online marketing: I need to revamp my Publishers Marketplace webpage to promote the novel, and do some postings at the websites of clubs and associations I’m a member of.  Additional e-mail blasts, a contest for a free e-book, posts about the novel at LinkedIn and other websites with forums, and exploring the Goodreads possibility.  Do any of you visit Goodreads on a regular basis and write reviews there?

I’m open to other ideas, as long as they don’t cost a lot of money.  Perhaps with traditional publication a publisher would also help me with this, but I kind of doubt it.  I’m not (yet) a blockbuster author, or a prestigious author (yet), so a traditional publisher probably would not have an effective marketing budget for me.

So, Perceval’s Secret is available now.  Please buy it!  And I hope you enjoy reading it…..

 

Vacation!

What a strange word: vacation.  What a foreign experience for this writer.  What exactly is a vacation?  It’s been years since I’ve taken one, even a short one, as I am this weekend.  What do I do?

Nothing!  No work, no blogging, no business stuff, no marketing tasks.  Not until next Monday.  I plan to do a lot of reading, daydreaming, walking in Nature, and cat-napping.

So, there’ll be no regular Saturday post here this week.  I’ll be back next week…..

Gina's Eyes

PUBLISHED!

Yes, finally!  This past Saturday, I uploaded the e-book files of Perceval’s Secret to the appropriate e-bookstore.  It’s available to buy at Amazon Kindle Store and Barnes & Noble Nook Books.  It’ll be available to buy at Kobo International in a couple days.

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

For all those who’ve been wondering what I’ve been writing about here at this blog, now’s your opportunity to find out.  Buy and read Perceval’s Secret!  If you like it, please tell everyone you know about it, post at Facebook, write a review at the store you bought it from.

For my readers who don’t have a Kindle or a Nook, you can download the software for FREE from the respective online stores to your desktop or laptop and use it to read the novel.

Thank you!