Jeremy’s War: Chapter 1 "Sleepless Nights"

Posted on March 1, 2008

Ch.1 SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

Jeremy Armstrong lay in bed, gazing up at the ceiling. Wondering.
He took another swig of beer, and realized he was getting quite drunk. It didn’t matter. He had nowhere to stagger to. He was already home, in bed. Strangely, that was part of the problem.
The coal fire had nearly burned itself out, but the embers still glowed sufficiently fiercely to cast shadows around his room. The odd flame shot up, fought gallantly for a while, and then succumbed. Jeremy would watch its demise on the ceiling, and his mind drew a parallel between the struggling flames and the workings of his tired mind. Life itself too seemed but a short lived flame. He felt cynical and bitter.
The words of Macbeth, mourning his fate, mourning the death of his wife, aware of his enemies approaching, came back to him.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life is but a walking shadow;
a poor player,
who struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more.
It is a tale,
told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing…

There were times he had thought he was getting the measure of what life was all about. Times when flickering flames of understanding and passion had licked out hungrily from behind the careful, controlled facade of his existence. But…
Everybody lived behind their own disguise. Everybody suspected everybody else to be living behind make-up.
Make-believe. Woe betide him who threw off his mask. Jeremy had tried it.
He had asked questions. He had dared query established values. It had brought him grief and trouble…

He swigged at the beer again, burped noisily, and thought back bitterly to that evening’s so-called entertainment.
It was always the same. Whatever social function he attended, there was always somebody back from the trenches, on leave. Everybody would crowd around, and listen to the stories, and ask questions about the war. The news from Flandres had not been good, and the casualty rate had been staggering, although the newspapers tended to play that side down.
Jeremy wondered for the thousandth time what the war was all about. And, more importantly, if he should join it.
Should he fight?
Uneasy stirrings inside him told him that he should. He was getting funny looks, and, on the social scene, a certain coldness towards him had crept in, that hurt his feelings. Tonight though had been the first time there had been open sarcasm. The jibe – from that idiot Donaldson – about the womenfolk ‘keeping the home fires burning’, accompanied with a knowing look at the others, and a nod of the head towards Jeremy, had struck home grievously. He had pretended to ignore it, and retreated behind a cool aloofness, much to poor Emmy’s dismay. Donaldson, of all people. That imbecile of a miner’s son, common as muck, full of himself now he had become a war hero…
Jeremy had felt like punching that smug expression into the middle of next week. But…
Maybe he should join up. And fight. Ignore the doubts, the logic, the reasoning. Just accept that everybody else was right. He probably thought too much anyway. Emmy said so. Maybe he should just accept the cause, believe in it, and fight for his country.
Two questions, however, always returned to haunt him.
Firstly, would he be a coward when it came to it?
Secondly, what would his mother say?

The second question was the easier one. His mother was totally, passionately, fiercely against it. She had fought and argued loud and long against him joining up, for no other reason that she loved her child, did not want him hurt, and was convinced he could serve society better in some other way. At home.
That was a huge obstacle. He loved his mother, and they were very close.

The first question… was more difficult. Would he be a coward? Would he flinch from it?
It was often as if three separate identities were all arguing inside his head at the same time. He liked the one with the quiet, confident, reassuring voice. The Comforter.
"Of course you wouldn’t flinch! You’ve got guts! Nobody could say otherwise. If it came to it, you’d stand your ground for sure…"
Jeremy could identify with those sentiments; it sounded so convincing, so comforting, so eminently sensible, that he wondered what all the fuss was about. But then, at other times, the nagging, insecure, worried identity would cut in: "How can you be sure? What have you ever done that required real guts?"
The Doubter’s words always cut deep. He would brood and brood over that one. He knew the answer. Nothing. Playing good rugby, tennis and chess was all fair and good, but it didn’t require real guts.
No, he had never really done anything that required out and out courage.
He would become agitated, and start doubting himself.
Sometimes the voice of the Doubter would make him angry.
Then the third identity, the Agitator, would add his two penny worth. Once, at Speaker’s Corner, that corner of Hyde Park where all the demagogues, the idealists, the quacks and the nut cases gather to spout forth, Jeremy had listened to a man with a strange accent, who had argued some of the crowd to the point of fury. But there had been a strange persuasiveness about the man and his arguments…
The Agitator always started quietly.
"Jeremy Armstrong a coward? What makes a coward? A man who does not wish to kill? A man who wants to live in peace with his neighbors? Is that a coward?
But the Doubter would strike back: "We are not talking about peace loving neighbors! We are talking about a warlike people who threaten our country…"
The Agitator would raise an eyebrow, and say: "Is that so? Verdun, the Marne, the Somme, these are all places to be found within the confines of this country, are they? When English blood is spilled in the mud of France, when young men in the flower of their youth lie dying, their stomachs torn out, their legs blown off, their eyes gouged out… then they die knowing their death served a purpose? They died defending this country, did they? Then what were they doing abroad? In a foreign country?"
The crowd would gasp in horror, and cries of ‘Shame! Shame!’ would temporarily drown out the Agitator. He would appear quite unruffled. When the fuss had died down a bit, he would continue, sweetly, reasonably, striking an altogether more conciliatory note:
"Comrades, I might be wrong…" (shouts of: ‘Bloody right you’re wrong!’) "… I am only a simple man. Uneducated, from working stock. If I am wrong, I say to you: tell me, where am I wrong…?"
Five angry, strident voices would be heard. One by one they would shut up, yielding to the most powerful, the most strident. The strident voice would put in a determined defense of British policy, and decry the Agitator’s unpatriotic attitude. (cheers, and ‘Hear!, Hear!’). The Agitator would listen with head bowed, in mock solemnity, as if in a pose of penitence. But the moment the strident voice had spluttered into silence, the head would bob up, the eyes would sparkle devilishly, and he would launch his next missile…
"So you, kind Sir, believe the sacrifices made by our gallant men are in the most noble of causes? I see. You believe this is a war of principle, of purity, of Evil versus Good? I see. (a pause while his words sink in).
Can you then explain to us, kind Sir, why it is that the manufacturers of the guns and the bombs grow rich and fat upon the proceeds of this most noble cause? (laughter)
Or would you, kind Sir, have us believe that the gentry who supply the war effort, who sell the guns, the bombs, the boots, the uniforms, the airplanes, the ships…
would you, kind Sir, have us believe that the gentry supply these goods for free? For the sake of principle? (laughter) In a spirit of self sacrifice? (loud laughter) Would you have us believe they do NOT make a fat profit out of the misery and blood of our boys in the trenches???"
(laughter, fury, screams, shouts, pushing and jostling)

Jeremy finished the one bottle, and opened another. He debated getting up and throwing more coal on the fire. It was going to be a long, long night again. He would toss and turn, but wouldn’t sleep.

Sleep. How long since he had enjoyed the luxury of deep, peaceful, unconscious, slumber?
Hell. Hell and damn and blast. What was the purpose of it all? The Agitator had a point. Jeremy knew there were those who were growing fat on the war effort.

His father for one…

* * *

Five miles from where Jeremy lay drinking, brooding and worrying, Emmy Houghton sat sadly gazing out the window, absorbed in her own, private, unhappy meditation.
She was quite a beautiful girl, but in a quiet, uneffusive, understated sort of way. She was blond, with shoulder length hair, which needed very little encouragement to curl delightfully. She was slim, elegant, with soft eyes that hid just below the curls that fell from her forehead. Her nose was straight and strong, and her mouth was round, kissable and yielding. Only her teeth, about which she was sensitive, were less than perfect. Although clean and white, the bottom row was oddly jumbled, as if one or two teeth too many had resulted in the stronger trying to force the weaker out. Emmy was aware of her teeth, and tried to smile quietly, without revealing them. That shy smile, coupled to a gentle, very feminine nature, combined to drive hot blooded men insane with desire. But Emmy was not attracted to romantic lovers. She had a strong maternal instinct, which found expression in her work as a district nurse. She was aware that men lusted after her, and was uncomfortable with it.

The stars were out in force, and Emmy listened to the silence. She liked the quiet of the night, and the peace of silence. An opened Bible lay on the dressing table beside her, a passage from Corinthians underlined in her delicate hand:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

She thought of Jeremy, and their strange relationship.
She sighed, and wrapped her silk dressing gown closer around herself. She stood up, and walked to the window, pressing her forehead against the cold pane. Her slim figure remained there, a statue in the portal of the big window, framed, looking out over the troubled world.
It was an odd relationship.
They had met two years earlier, when they were both eighteen. They had argued at a Bible study evening. From there they had met over coffee and buns in the village teashop, to continue their theological arguments. He had at once both infuriated and fascinated her.
Emmy was deeply religious. She studied the Bible, and believed in God without any difficulty. This was odd really, considering her parents were complete agnostics.
Loving, caring, warm, protective, they puzzled a little at her deep religiousness, but accepted it without murmur.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Jeremy openly wondered if Christianity was ‘foolishness’. But he queried it in such an open, honest fashion, that Emmy had to respect him for it. Jeremy was… an unusual man. He had respected her faith, never mocked it, and he had never made a pass at her.
This was a relief for Emmy, and one reason she felt attracted to him. She had let it be known casually very early on that she would never marry or even court a non-believer. He had accepted that on the face of it without a murmur, and agreed to be ‘just good friends’. Thus they had met frequently, discussed Life, Death and the Universe, and gone for long walks, without ever a kiss or an embrace.
Most people regarded them as a couple. What did she think they were?

A slight draught of air played with her dressing gown, and for a moment her small, tidy breasts peeked out at the world. She rearranged herself, and then sat down, gazing into the fire. Was she in love with Jeremy Armstrong? Was he in love with her?
Somehow, she felt he desired her. It was in his eyes sometimes. In the way his deep blue eyes followed her around the room. He was capable of great loving, that much she knew. He felt things passionately. His endless soul searching was quite amazing, and she felt protective towards him. He was in some ways a big brother to her.
Did she love him? A lot of her wanted to say: "Oh, no! We’re just good friends…", the way she had done so many times to her unbelieving friends. But in the privacy of her room, there were no friends to impress. There was only herself. Again, did she love him?

A dull crack from the fire indicated some coal or piece of wood had split under the heat. A spark shot out, and impacted on the old rug. It went out immediately.

Again, did she love him?
It was hard to say. But this much she knew: the prospect of him going to fight in France filled her with fear and foreboding. She dreaded his departure. Dreaded it with all her heart and all her love.
He was a gentle person. A kind person. Underneath the tough, occasionally foul mouthed exterior, there lurked a nice, warm, loving person. An idealist. A dreamer.
Who wrote stupid poetry.
She smiled as she remembered some of it.
He had suffered a bad case of ‘unrequited love’, when a flaming redhead had stood him up at a dance in favor of a medical student. With the earnestness of youth, he had struggled long to get over it, finally mocking himself with the ‘ballad of the beauty’, who was swept off her feet by the evil vampire.

The beauty and the vampire,
skated round the room,
She kissed him on his forehead,
and plunged me into gloom.

For I had loved her dearly,
and gazed upon her face.
And watched her in the morning
from a hidden, lonely place.

She scorned me with her dancing,
and mocked me with her eye.
My love was not worth tuppence,
to the raven from the sky.

Alas! Her head quite soon forgot,
(as off she walked the path of strays)
the times her heart beat close to mine,
and loved my simple, foolish ways.

Discarded like a well worn boot
Ignored, disliked, aghast,
I tried to feel raw anger
and push away the past.

In vain I sought the bitter,
and wallowed in my pain
But Life is meant for loving,
and so I smiled again.

I know that I shall always,
treasure in my heart,
the times we had together,
wher’ever now thou art…

It was not a good poem. It lacked sophistication. Compared with Keats, or Shakespeare, or Shelley, or Wordsworth, it was a complete nothing.
She liked it though. She wondered why. Probably because it was such an honest, bad poem. It was intelligible, and sincere. Jeremy had been heart broken for a period. Six weeks? Then he had come out of it. More or less.
Was there such a thing as ‘bad poetry’? If people enjoyed writing it? If they were sincere? Did it all have to be such hard work to decipher the ‘hidden meanings’?

She raked the red hot coals, and pondered Jeremy Armstrong fighting a war. For she knew he would. Eventually. Even though he did not know himself, Emmy knew, with that instinctive intuition of womanhood, that he would go and fight.
Tonight had been the final nail in the coffin. Mark Donaldson had driven it in. By mocking Jeremy in front of friends and family, by suggesting he was a coward, Mark had pushed the gentle, dreamy, naive poet down the path to war. There was no hatred in Jeremy. How would he fare in battle? She felt sorry for him, desperately sad and sorry.
The final nail in the coffin…
The analogy suddenly hit her, and she shuddered in horror.

She went to bed, and slept badly. Dreams disturbed her. A vampire was skating delightedly around a coffin, whilst a flaming redhead sat on it, casually cleaning her nails.

F.M.


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9 responses to Jeremy’s War: Chapter 1 "Sleepless Nights"

  1. Hey here it is! I’d been meaning to get back to reading Jeremy, sorry it took so long. I haven’t read a decent story in ages. I’ll start from the beginning anyway just because it’s been a while. I do remember reviewing this chap before, but now that I’m a little more mature (as a writer…don’t think of taking that cheap shot Francis) I’ll take another swing at it.

    “Everybody lived behind their own disguise. Everybody suspected everybody else to be living behind make-up.
    Make-believe. Woe betide him who threw off his mask. Jeremy had tried it.”

    I like this, it pretty much exemplifies society in a couple sentences. Sociologists write whole books on this subject and your witty approach explained a hell of a lot more than a whole sociology class did for me.

    “Two questions, however, always returned to haunt him.
    Firstly, would he be a coward when it came to it?
    Secondly, what would his mother say?”

    LoL, that’s great and it made me chuckle at the end. The really important question is what his mom would think.

    “when young men in the flower of their youth lie dying.” Quick correction, I think it should be “lay dying.”

    When you’re talking about the Speaker at the corner of Hyde Park, you launch into a dialogue about war and peace. I’m not sure if this is an internal dialogue Jeremy is having with himself or if it is a flashback. I may have missed something.

    “If I am wrong, I say to you: tell me, where am I wrong…?" Hey didn’t you jack that from Socrates or something? Good though, keepers.

    “would you, kind Sir, have us believe that the gentry supply these goods for free? For the sake of principle?” Good argument! You totally won the debate. I think you should end the dialogue right there at “principal” and delete the sentence where he goes on laughing. His point hit like a bullet and I feel that the next few sentences are overkill and take away from the effect.

    “Hell. Hell and damn and blast.” Lol. “What was the purpose of it all? The Agitator had a point. Jeremy knew there were those who were growing fat on the war effort.

    His father for one…”

    Very good transition and I like your wit. It keeps me reading and gives me the passive-aggressive feel of Jeremy’s thoughts.

    About Emmy’s description. Here’s ultimately where the dilemma comes in with describing characters. Normally, it just doesn’t sound right to straight out describe the character directly to the reader, that’s generally seen as a creative party-foul. So what a lot of authors do is use situations to say things like “her blonde hair whipped in the wind as a breeze blew by,” but then you get a lot of empty prose that doesn’t move the story forward and the amount of scenarios you would actually need to fully describe a single character could be a whole chapter. Boring.

    Personally what I do to cheat is try to write character descriptions through the eyes of another character, that way it’s the character describing someone to you, not I, the writer, definitely not me. But then what a lot of other writers who do this do is wait until you’re halfway through the bloody story and already have a character picture in your head to describe their characters to you and completely throw you off. I hate Dean Koontz for that very reason (hell, damn and blast!).

    Your situation is tricky because Emmy is in a room by herself and there’s no other central character to describe her for you. You could try spreading her description out throughout the scene, but I agree with you trying to establish her character picture as quickly as possible.

    Here’s what I recommend: Pick your genre.
    The classic literature approach would be that if you’re going to describe your character directly to me, spice up the description and write some creative prose.

    However, the best seller paperback approach that I’ve seen in a lot of scifi, genre fiction, and mass market paperback is to not describe the character at all, and let the reader get their own mental image of the character.

    THEN AGAIN…

    The Da Vinci Code and Angels&Demons did exactly what you’re doing, flat out describing characters and ditching the propers of writing to tell a story. However, those stories were so full of stuff, information, and plot that the actual writing wasn’t too important.

    OH I DON’T KNOW! I just don’t like it. We’ll have to work on it somehow.

    “A slight draught of air played with her dressing gown, and for a moment her small, tidy breasts peeked out at the world.” LOL you sicko :tongue1 . What’s that doing in here? That’s like the Janet Jackson nipple flash at the superbowl. Just kinda funny. I’d consider rewording.

    “He was in some ways a big brother to her.” I’ll be honest that I kinda rolled my eyes at this sentence because I already grasp what kind of a relationship they have, and even though it’s just in my experience that girls being “like a little sister” to boys like Jeremy in the same age category is in reality ridiculously rare and overused in literature, it still kinda seems cliché.

    “A dull crack from the fire indicated some coal or piece of wood had split under the heat. A spark shot out, and impacted on the old rug. It went out immediately.”

    You know, I really like this line. It’s completely random and almost has nothing to do with anything, but I got that it was an allusion to her thoughts and feelings, and the spark going out is like a bad omen almost. Good job.

    About the poem, I hate Keats and Shelly and Wordsworth and especially Shakespeare. Stoners. I know you wrote the poem, but you also wrote that “it was nothing compared to Wordsworth or Keats or Shakespeare.” I’m not sure if you realize that you actually portrayed a lot of Emmy’s personality just by writing that she read those poets. It eliminates the need for half your description of her personality in this chapter. Women in that time who were well-read were like the Jane’s in Pride and Prejudice and we all know their personalities. Good job. Hopefully you caught on to this too and wrote it for that reason and not just to downplay your own poetry. Use this premise to axe as much empty description as possible, it’ll up the pace of the story.

    “A vampire was skating delightedly around a coffin, whilst a flaming redhead sat on it, casually cleaning her nails.” LoL it’s like 4 in the morning and you can imagine the weird mental image I just got of the Dracula in Van Helsing skating around a coffin. lololol.

    Well you know what I would say, overall great job. Now thank you for humoring my long-winded rant-review. It’s like 4am and my sleep cycle is off again. You know how it is.

  2. Thanks, Nicole! I need to sit down and think over some of the points you raise. Good ones.
    Appreciate the effort….
    I’m flying right now, based offshore, so Internet access and time are a little challenging. I hope you enjoy Jeremy.
    I kind of want this novel up on the site and out of the way, because of the next novel that needs finishing.

  3. "when young men in the flower of their youth lie dying." Quick correction, I think it should be "lay dying."
    (I checked this. No, I think it’s correct the way it is, unless you wanted to change the tense completely in all those sentences.)

    (The speaker at Hyde Park Corner. It is BOTH. Both a flash back AND an internal struggle. For me. But a reader may form his or her own impressions…)

    "If I am wrong, I say to you: tell me, where am I wrong…?" Hey didn’t you jack that from Socrates or something? Good though, keepers.
    (Err… I think I made that up, but if Socrates beat me to it, who am I to argue?)

    "would you, kind Sir, have us believe that the gentry supply these goods for free? For the sake of principle?" Good argument! You totally won the debate. I think you should end the dialogue right there at "principal" and delete the sentence where he goes on laughing. His point hit like a bullet and I feel that the next few sentences are overkill and take away from the effect.
    (well, I think I modeled those last sentences on something I read somewhere. For the Life of me I can’t remember. I think I was trying to convey the element of heckling, an angry crows; and I was once at Hyde Park, at Speaker’s Corner,listening to just such a communist, facing just such a crowd…!)

    Very good transition and I like your wit. It keeps me reading and gives me the passive-aggressive feel of Jeremy’s thoughts.
    (I like that expression: "passive-aggressive feel". I have wondered if people would suspect Jeremy of being bi-polar, and maybe even slightly schizophrenic in society’s eyes… I hope people will see the sensitive side of his nature, the feeling side, but not underestimate the violent side either!)

    About Emmy’s description. Here’s ultimately where the dilemma comes in with describing characters. Normally, it just doesn’t sound right to straight out describe the character directly to the reader, that’s generally seen as a creative party-foul.
    (interesting comment; but, "says who?"…. do you think my method DOES work here? As for the "convention" of it…. I couldn’t care less….)

    Here’s what I recommend: Pick your genre.
    The classic literature approach would be that if you’re going to describe your character directly to me, spice up the description and write some creative prose.
    (Um. So you don’t think I did?)

    OH I DON’T KNOW! I just don’t like it. We’ll have to work on it somehow.
    (Okay, I’m all ears…)

    "A slight draught of air played with her dressing gown, and for a moment her small, tidy breasts peeked out at the world." LOL you sicko :tongue1 . What’s that doing in here? That’s like the Janet Jackson nipple flash at the superbowl. Just kinda funny. I’d consider rewording.
    (I think what’s going on there for me is the times she lived in, with false modesty on the outside, and hyprocrisy on the inside. Some basic aspects of human nature don’t change. I think in her there is a tension. Almost a denial of her own sexuality. Nonethless, that sexuality "peeked out at the world" all the time… Make sense?)
    (symbolism, allusion, imagery)

    "He was in some ways a big brother to her." I’ll be honest that I kinda rolled my eyes at this sentence because I already grasp what kind of a relationship they have, and even though it’s just in my experience that girls being "like a little sister" to boys like Jeremy in the same age category is in reality ridiculously rare and overused in literature, it still kinda seems cliché.
    (Um. I think you need to read further. Their relationship is more complicated than you think…)

    Use this premise to axe as much empty description as possible, it’ll up the pace of the story.
    (Yes, I often worry about ’empty description’ and the ‘pace of the story’. Any writer should. HOW-EVER. I rebel against a style I see all too often. A racy style, a fast food style, a novel you can read in a morning style. I don’t like it. I like to mix fast paced with dead slow. Sometimes I can almost hear soft, slow background music while I write. Slow. Slow. Here comes a THEME. The quiet, thoughtful, sensitive Emmy. Yes, I take my time describing her. She is based very much on a former lover of mine… Pace is important, but I did not write this novel as a trendy speed setter. There has been a lot of effort gone into the descriptions. It is NOT a racy story. In many ways, it is an anti war novel, but also an anti society novel. A protest against established society’s pressures on young women and young men. Look at the Iraq war… That is a theme I cannot expand on at 100 miles per hour. This novel takes a quiet, determined, insightful reader, such as yourself. The speed reader, who wants all action and an easy read, will be dissatisfied.
    This novel is meant to challenge a reader, as well as hopefully entertain… Since that kind of style is entirely un-market-able, I know it will never be published. That’s okay. That’s not what it was about. This was about creating. Not selling… I’m resigned to working like hell on my stories and novels, just for the love of it)

    Well you know what I would say, overall great job. Now thank you for humoring my long-winded rant-review. It’s like 4am and my sleep cycle is off again. You know how it is.
    (I absolutely enjoyed your candid review; loved it. It is to readers like you I dedicate my short story "Let’s Ride". I hope you will read it, and pursue Jeremy with me. I enjoy your critiques.)

    Thanks again

    Francis

  4. Interesting. It’s not often I can read a complete novel on the Internet, AND see the writer discuss his views with other readers.
    This was a complex chapter somehow. There was a lot going on.
    I think I have a kinder view of Emmy. She comes across quite clearly
    as a beautiful spirit. Now for Jeremy. I’m not sure I like him very much. He seems immature, and confused. Mixed up. But then again, maybe that’s what you meant him to be.
    Still, I confess to the urge of wanting to like my hero.
    Is that bad?

  5. "Still, I confess to the urge of wanting to like my hero.
    Is that bad?"

    No, I don’t think that’s bad. It depends though on what kind of hero you are talking about. The movies and bestsellers abound with hero types who are devoid of real personality. Even their emotions are superficial. I’m thinking of Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" and "Magnum Force". The Alister McClean type heroes, the Arnold Schwarzenegger types… the success of these characters speaks for itself, and is a sure witness to
    an insatiable demand for these granite hard killers.
    To me, that kind of writing and character creating is "formulaic". Profitable, popular, but actually pretty easy.
    I think it’s a lot harder to create a unique individual, with real feelings and real doubts.
    I’m hoping… you will warm to Jeremy if you read further and get to know him better.

    Thanks for reading (and commenting)

  6. "Profitable, popular, but actually pretty easy."
    Hm. So you are saying it’s easy to be a best seller author?

  7. I meant "easy" in the sense of "straightforward". Not "easy" in the sense that "anybody can do it".
    To expand: we know James Bond is always cool, never gets killed, and never suffers from self doubt, guilt, or diarrhoea. Think how much easier that is for the writer.
    With Jeremy, I was ‘trying’ to create a ‘humane’ character. Somebody real, warm, bumbling, stupid, wise, searching, lost, brave, and foolish. And politically speaking, naive. Somebody -I hope- many readers can relate to on some level. Perhaps his horror at killing and war…

    That… is much harder to do. Hence my comment above that the stereotype bestseller ‘hero’ is ‘easy’ to create. Unless you find it real easy to relate and identify with James Bond and the ‘Terminator’??

  8. "To expand: we know James Bond is always cool, never gets killed, and never suffers from self doubt, guilt, or diarrhoea. Think how much easier that is for the writer."

    I understand. And no, I don’t like what you call the ‘granite hard killers’.

  9. Characters are like people in that they will be who they will be. You can mold them, shape them, try to redirect them, but they will become who they are. Just like you give birth to a child and try to nurture it, lead it the right way – well, like the bumper sticker says – shit happens.

    Not every hero wears a white hat, boyo.

    IMHO, the very best hero ’tis the one who did not really seem to be any hero to start.

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