Today I have the pleasure to welcome the very talented J.C. Martin to Watch Out. She will be talking to us all about the hero. She has a hot new book called the Oracle that you just can’t miss. So now time for me to give the floor over to my very special guest.
The Evolution of a Hero: A Pictorial Casting Call
When I set out creating my protagonist for Oracle, I knew I wanted someone different from all the divorced, beer-swilling, donut-munching, middle-aged white detectives already saturating crime fiction. I also wanted someone who would reflect the ethnic diversity of modern London. So I created Detective Kurt Lancer, a mixed-race (half-English, half-Nigerian), cornrow-wearing police detective built like a football line-backer.
In order to aid me in my writing (or really to provide some oft-needed distraction), I trawled through photos of various men fitting that description, to try and find the personification of Kurt Lancer.
And because we don’t need an excuse to ogle at some eye candy, here, in pictures, is the evolution of Detective Kurt Lancer:
I started off by picturing an existing mixed-race law enforcement officer on TV. Naturally, Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds came to mind:
However, Shemar is a bit too clean-cut for Kurt’s character. I needed someone more rugged.
And then I found this guy:
This model’s skin tone is the perfect match for Lancer’s. But again, I needed someone who looked more rough-and-tumble. And bulkier.
Marlon Wayans was Kurt’s next incarnation, but I just could not stop thinking: White Chicks. *shudders*
Then I decided that Lancer should have longer hair, hair that he likes to keep in neat braids:
Footballer David James was a good candidate. He’s mixed-race, wears cornrows, and is well-built, and while I still didn’t feel that he was Kurt Lancer, he did give me the idea to look up mixed-race athletes for a possible match in terms of physique.
Then I found David Haye:
I was so, so close to settling on the heavyweight boxer. In fact, I still mention in Oracle that Lancer looked like Haye. But I had a lingering doubt: Lancer may be big, but he’s not as big as Haye, and something in my gut told me we’re not quite there yet.
Finally, I found this rugged gem:
Now I don’t know who this guy is, and his picture’s been sitting in my computer for so long I don’t even remember where I found him. But to me, he is Detective Kurt Lancer: rugged, tall, muscular, with a resemblance to David Haye, but more lithely built and with a lighter skin tone. I could easily picture that curly mop of hair braided into neat cornrows. Best of all, this guy is a man on the street, not a famous celebrity, and that suits Kurt to the ground: someone happy with doing his job, without being in the limelight.
And so Kurt Lancer was born. I must say, it was a journey that was easy on the eyes!
Looking at my choice for Kurt Lancer, what can you deduce about his personality? How do YOU create a mental picture of your protagonist?