“Chris Pratt” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When I first began thinking about writing as a career, I did what most aspiring authors do. I read. I studied. I tried to suck in a world of advice about the art of writing. Then, I started. Then I quit. I started again and quit. Over what must have been ten years, I did this again and again, sputtering like a gas-powered lawn mower with a bad spark plug. It wasn’t that I was lacking in story ideas. Rather, it was the daunting task of populating some fictitious world I created with characters that would draw readers in and hold them like a sticky spider web so they couldn’t run away.

In one of the books I read, the author talked extensively about creating a memorable character whose existence is beyond the ordinary. He called him (or her) Homo Fictus, a species apart from Homo Sapiens, someone extraordinary but still believable. You can’t believe how difficult it is to do this and do it well. You read, you study, and then when you believe in yourself enough to start writing again, you find your character. Let me tell you about mine.

My current protagonist happens to be the fictional sheriff of Lincoln County, Nevada, Porter Beck. He’s not really larger than life. He looks a lot like the guy in the picture below for some reason, has the same sense of humor and comedic timing, so you know right out of the gate he’s going to have some flaws. Beck suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, better known as night blindness, which means that while he can see pretty well when the sun is up, his vision narrows to the tiniest speck of light during the dark of night, not the optimal affliction for a peace officer. He first noticed it a few years ago when he was in the Army running an important intelligence operation in Russia, and since it’s a progressive disease, it is slowly but steadily becoming worse. He’s trying to slow it down, but even Homo Fictus has limits.

Perhaps to balance his personal scale, I’ve also given the good sheriff the strange ability to recall the sounds that enter his brain. Music lyrics, spoken words, bird calls – once it comes in it never leaves, and he can summon it – sometimes wishing he couldn’t – almost instantly. It doesn’t begin to compensate him for his unenviable eyesight affliction, but it often keeps him in the game, especially when the bad guys underestimate him.

He’s the son of the former sheriff, a man with a unique past of his own who now suffers from a different progressive disability – dementia. And his adopted sister, Brinley, perhaps closer to him than anyone else in the world, is in love with him.

He’s the star, folks. And he’ll be in the bookstores hopefully in the first quarter of 2023. My publisher, Minotaur Books, hopes to unleash him on the literary world then. As for the title, well, that’s up in the air, but we should have a decision shortly, and I will keep you posted on that. For now, I hope you look forward to meeting Porter Beck as I know he does you.

Stay tuned!