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HOW OLD SHOULD MY CHARACTERS BE?

three generations of a family at the beach

The main characters in my novels are sometimes older than one might expect. To be sure, there could always be a twenty-, thirty-, or forty-year-old man and woman near the center of a story. These youngish characters are useful for action scenes.

 

Also, many readers are these younger ages, and might like reading about contemporaries. Thus Greg Dalhart in THE DALHART PURSUIT is in his early forties and the story's heroine, Jill Brennan, is in her late thirties. Likewise Thomas Irwin and Molly Olson in AMONG THE RUTHLESS are in their early thirties and late twenties, respectively

 

However, my main characters often have enjoyed many more years. These mature characters typically are active, appealing, and able. Jacob Leach in FLAT LIGHT, for example, remains profoundly lethal in his seventies. Marcus West, from THE GUN LAP ..., remains world-class brilliant in his late sixties. Walter Lindblohm in SHEILA AND RECLUSE races a sports cars at age eighty

 

Readers might even expect a character like Leach or West or Lindblohm if they had an experience I once had.

 

As a much younger man, I went through what purported to be elite military training. Some of the training was hardly elite, but there was one class I found truly impressive. We students were gathered in a gym. In walked two instructors. One was in his mid-sixties, the other in his mid-seventies. 

 

Each of the men had the erect, muscular build of an Olympic athlete and appeared to be in perfect physical condition. Only their lined faces and gray hair made them look different from, say, a Greg Dalhart. 

 

They explained their purpose more or less this way: "We're here for two reasons. First, we'll tell you how to stay physically fit for the rest of your lives. Next, we'll cover how to kill people with your bare hands." 

 

Any misconceptions I had about senior citizens soon vanished. 

 

Those misconceptions would have vanished anyway. Regular exercise, medical advances, improved diet, and healthier outlooks have long been taking effect. More and more Americans stay much younger for much longer. You might know over a dozen such persons.

 

Once I had been including more mature characters for a while, I realized some book clubs could benefit from my doing so. Book club members might be of different generations. A novel with characters of different generations might better serve the club's needs. 

 

Of course, I still would like my Jacob Leach, Marcus West, and Walter Lindblohm characters even if I were only twenty-two years old again. Some seniors are forever cool.

 

Randall Jarmon

 

Mikvelk Publishing, LLC

Coppell, Texas USA

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DESCRIBING DANGEROUS TECHNOLOGY

side of explosives storage shed

One supposes terrorists might read novels. If they read mine, the deadly technology I describe will not help them much. There are three reasons why Randall Jarmon novels seem eminently safe.

 
REASON 1. My descriptions tend to be a little off one way or another. Indeed, for scientists, engineers, and technicians, part of the fun in my stories could be finding the subtle errors I implant. Such persons especially might enjoy how FLAT LIGHT's Ludwig Ernst deploys thermite.

 
REASON 2. I think I also can safely describe certain lethal technology so commonplace that – even if the description were correct – evil doers would gain no advantage. 

 
For example, these days 81-millimeter mortars are ubiquitous among battlefields of the world. With a little effort, I imagine, one could find online full instructions for firing mortars. My telling bad guys how to shoot mortars should give them as much tactical advantage as my telling bad guys how to file their teeth. 


REASON 3. Then there is the dangerous technology I make up entirely. Doing so can be delightful since I face but one main constraint: Such technology should be no more than an inch ahead of what is available today.  


The one-inch restriction is important. If a novelist gets a foot or two ahead of today's technology, that novelist is writing science fiction. I don't write science fiction.

 
Accordingly, Aesop's oxymorgenthalene in THE DALHART PURSUIT sounds like something any pharmacist might have behind the counter. Further, since oxymorgenthalene does not exist, it will not hurt anyone – and it has no harmful side effects! Remember that part the next time you see cheery pharmaceutical TV ads during the evening news. 


To sum this topic up, the lethal technology I write about is flawed, is mundane, or is nonexistent. It would actually seem a good thing if the world's villains relied upon my novels for technical advice. 


Randall Jarmon

 

Mikvelk Publishing, LLC

Coppell, Texas USA

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