Monday, November 17, 2014

Meet Marcus Campbell

Who is Marcus Campbell?
 My main male character, Marcus Campbell, has his roots in many characters I have read about and watched over the years. His persona developed long before I knew him, the first hint I had of him was in reading "The Lord of the Rings" back when I was 12-13 years old. The heroic Aragorn, seen here as played by Viggo Mortensen, with his bravery and fighting skill set the foundation for Marcus.

That type of bravery mixed with my love of the flawed heroes of Marvel started a lifelong love of creating tragic heroes with a secret. Compare my Marcus, teacher with a dark past and a hidden secret, with Tony Stark, Logan, Bruce Banner, and Peter Parker. The skilled warriors Thor and Captain America, and of course the immortal-like healing of Wolverine (again).
Marcus Campbell is a great fighter and even greater leader. His band of demonic warriors would, have (and did) follow him into overwhelming odds, and they loved him for it...much like Mel Gibson's William Wallace, and Russell Crowe's Maximus Decimus Meridius. Two of my favorite movies. 
That brings me to television, and I would be remise to ignore 4...yes, 4 Joss Whedon creations: Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly (portrayed by Nathan Fillion), Angel (David Boreanaz), Spike (James Marsters), and Giles (Anthony Head). Malcolm Reynolds' wit, as well as Spikes' inspired a lot of Marcus's rapport with his men. If you look closely, you will see Marcus in full by looking at Rupert Giles and Angel: teacher, mentor, trainer, adviser, demon.


The final piece of the puzzle is another one of my favorite television shows, The Highlander. Duncan Macleod (Adrian Paul), epitomizes most qualities I see in Marcus Campbell.   

So, that is my Marcus Campbell. I hope this helps you understand where he came from, and maybe even a glimpse of where he is going.

What does the future hold for a teacher, mentor, warrior and demon?

Book two, The Heart of Seras: The Elders will be out this spring, followed by

book three, The Heart of Seras: Revelation
book four, The Heart of Seras: The Dark Skorei
book five, The Heart of Seras: Into the Abyss
and the exciting conclusion, The Heart of Seras: Journeys End

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A female Thor does not solve the problem.


By the Eye of Odin! Thor is now a woman. What in the name of Asgard is going on?

Well, I’ll tell ya.

First, let me state that I understand that every once in a while the people at Marvel have to change things up to keep it new and interesting to generate sales. By that logic I have learned that they even once turned Thor into a frog…man, I’m glad I stopped reading comic books when my sons outgrew them back in the early to mid-90s. I don’t know if I could have handled the God of Thunder being an amphibian.


How could a frog be seen as worthy? Heck, how would a frog even be able to wield Mjolnir?? Never mind…

So, the powers-that-be decided making Thor a girl fits a story line. Okay. Got it. I admit that at first I thought it was just a ploy to keep fanboy cave dwellers enticed, because Penny from the Big Bang Theory doesn’t happen in real life,
but after reading comments by actual fans I decided I get the thought process of changing Thor up a bit. Some, however, believe this is great because of the lack of female superheroes.

Now that brings us to the real problem – replacing Thor does not solve the problem. The lack of viable female characters being introduced to audiences in comic book form is the problem. Making Thor a girl for a short period of time for the sake of a current story line does nothing to fix that. The mythical "they" say that it is too difficult to introduce new characters. BULL!
I was 12-13 years old when Marvel introduced Storm.
They did a great job, and she is one of the most popular female characters in comic lore.
I was about 16-17 years old when Marvel introduced two more popular female characters: Rogue and Shadowcat
 Both have also done very well.
In fact, BtVS creator, Joss Whedon, names Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) as an influence to his Buffy.
 New female characters can be introduced. It's easy. Just make sure they have cool names, a cool story and cool powers. It has been done, and it has been done correctly with huge success. The industry is lazy.

This isn’t just on comic books, movies are to blame too.

The movie industry has seen the popularity of The Hunger Games (female lead),
Divergent (female lead), Underworld,

and a few others.
Plus, someone like Emma Watson,

and her fan base could definitely carry a franchise;
or either of the girls from the Percy Jackson movies
(Alexandra Daddano and Leven Rambin) could both be leads in action type movies.
Jamie Alexander (Lady Sif) could do the same as a main character, though probably not as Sif.
Few are given a chance.

Personally, I think YA literature has taken the lead in bringing strong female characters to the forefront. I hope that my Julie will get a chance to continue to build a strong female presence and fan base. Maybe someday the rest of the entertainment industries will catch up.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet Julie Ayers

Meet Julie Ayers

Often times I am asked where I got the idea for my book and characters.

Today I am going to spotlight Julie Ayers.

Julie, the spunky little girl from Sunset, Ohio with vivid, curious, brown eyes the color of honey with flecks of gold, wavy brown hair, a round face, and creamy mocha skin that easily tanned when kissed by the summer sun, is the mixing of many characters and people.

Being the heroine of the story and root of where my journey began, I have to point to two specific people:

Buffy Summers


Harry Potter

The story was born out of three things in the fall of 2005. It was my second quarter at The Ohio State University – Newark. I was taking four classes, two to note: Mythology 101 and Freshman Writing. The textbooks used in Freshman Writing were the first three books of the Harry Potter series. Being a 41 year old man at the time, I had no desire to ever read these books…big mistake! All things considered, holes in the story and obvious writing style, I loved them.

Side note and spoiler alert if you have not read the books or seen the movies, yet:

Snape was by far my favorite character and I knew there was more good to him than he was letting on. I have the paper to prove it. Trust me when I say I took a lot of flak liking him, especially after he killed Dumbledore.

So, the idea was planted to have a young character who had no idea they were special to be the only person who could do…something…

Buffy Summers played by the fabulous Sarah Michelle Gellar was the ultimate high school superhero. A girl with a secret purpose. She was the butt-kicking, vampire slaying of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She had humor, passion, boy trouble, fitting in problem, and all of the quirks I see on a daily basis coaching high school girls, with the additional problem of vampires and other demons wanting to kill her. I would record and watch Buffy every day and come home, do my homework and watch the series unfold.  

So this is where I started. Buffy Summers and Harry Potter were the foundation.

Mythology 101 was the frame (I will now stop using construction terms). In mythology, the final assignment was to create something based on what we had learned. As Professor Tebben had said, we could draw a picture, make a sculpture, write a paper, decipher Linear A, whatever we wanted to do as a final project. I decided to create my own mythological story. I created the sun god, moon goddess, mother earth, and it became so complex I knew I would never get it done in time. So I scraped the idea and wrote a paper comparing Mount Olympus and Canton’s Hall of Fame. It was terrible. I got an A- on the paper, and probably an A- in the class (I don’t remember). But, I kept the idea of creating my own mythology…that is important.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had another character influential on developing Julie. That was Cordelia Chase.


Charisma Carpenter as Cordy.

Smart, pretty, popular, and a cheerleader. All things I would add to my main character. Cordelia really came into her own when she moved to the tv show, Angel. She gave humor to the show and kept Angel centered. During one episode when Angel was teaching Cordelia how to use a sword, and she used the skills she had as a cheerleader to learn the techniques, I knew I had the next ingredient to my heroine.

Another side note – as much as I admire Joss Whedon and all that he has brought to the world, I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for writing Cordy into a corner and having to kill her off. At least he made up for it in her final appearance, “You’re Welcome.”

Growing up in the 70s I was witness to some great shows, especially since I was one of the early beneficiaries of cable, one show that I personally wouldn’t consider great (many do, however), but I never missed was “One Day at a Time.” And that was because I had a big time crush on Barbara Cooper.


 Yep, Valerie Bertinelli.

If I could hand draw the perfect image of Julie Ayers, she would look a lot like her. Sassy, cute and funny, the perfect teenage girl.

IN fact, I can even imagine her looking like this when she gets older:

Short, scrappy and heals really fast. That describes my girl, Julie, but it also describes another blast from the 70s. I was eleven years old when I bought my first copy of the new X-Men comic and this character leapt of the page:

The Wolverine has become one of the most popular superheroes ever, and is a big influence on Julie's development.

The final elements of Julie Ayers boils down to this:

I wanted her to have the skin tone and complexion of Adriana Lima, partly because of her South American heritage since Julie's family has history south of the border, too.

 creamy mocha skin that easily tanned when kissed by the summer sun”

Natalie Portman’s eyes, who I was a big fan of after watching “The Professional,
“vivid, curious, brown eyes the color of honey with flecks of gold”

And I, of course, with coaching girls since 1995, I had their behaviors and speech memorized about as well as any guy could. I purposely didn’t want to make her a track athlete, since I coached track. I chose basketball because I am a big fan of

 Dr. J. Julius Erving


And there you have it. From Buffy, to Harry, to Cordelia, Valerie, Adriana, Natalie, Dr. J and the hundred or so girls I have coached in the past two decades are all the elements poured into Julie Ayers, and how I came up with my heroine.
My butt-kicking savior of Seras all wrapped up in a nutshell.
Next time I will profile the making of Marcus Campbell.






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No damsel in distress here!

Julie Ayers – not a damsel in distress…

I recently read a very interesting…blog, I think, about Mary Sues. First, let me say that before I read this blog, I had never heard of a Mary Sue, and I didn’t know who she was.

I guess a Mary Sue is a literary or some other form of fictional character, female mostly, though men can be a Mary Sue (or some form of the name), who is practically perfect in every way (no offense to Mary Poppins). She is the heroine who is smarter, more talented, and better at everything than anyone else.

The major problem, according to the blog and subsequent messages, was that there are not enough female heroes represented in movies like The Avengers, or on their own. They were angry that the Black Widow character played a secondary role to Thor, Captain America, The Hulk and Ironman. They were also upset that Black Widow wasn’t going to get her own franchise movie deal. While I won’t disagree that women should be better represented, I do disagree that every female character can carry a movie, let alone a blockbuster movie. But this isn’t just a female superhero problem. I don’t think a character like Flash (my favorite DC superhero) could carry his own movie, either.

Now to Julie. I am so glad that I wrote her the way that I did. Yes, she is a cheerleader and an athlete. And, yes, she is a good student, but not great. And, yes, she is pretty and has a personality that makes people like her. But, she is flawed. She has the same issues that girls her age have: poor body image, disagrees with parents, rocky relationships, and self-doubt. She also fails miserably at the exact moment she is needed most.

I did this in objection to one of my biggest pet peeves toward Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the HP stories, as one of my friends has called it, “literary crack,” but in book one how Harry was able to outsmart grown-ups and defeat Quirrell and the return of the great dark wizard, Voldemort, was unrealistic. He needed to be groomed more, he needed to develop longer. And that is what Julie is going to do.

I want Julie to be a role model to girls everywhere. No, they will not get whisked away to a hidden dimension stuck in the Middle Ages, but they can overcome setbacks and failures. They can be strong in the face of danger. They can be a voice of reason. And they can learn to fight their own battles. Not that they dismiss help, because everyone would like a little help now and then, but if they find themselves alone, they can do what is necessary to succeed.

Julie is not a Mary Sue, and she is not a damsel-in-distress. She is a young girl who is learning to be strong, independent and resourceful. Her teacher/mentor, Marcus, is there to help guide her along the way. This does not take away from her strength, but adds to it. Who knows, maybe someday she will find her way to the big screen and be that female hero the writer of the article is looking for.

Enjoy the journey!!