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Sharing Ourselves in Our Novels
Is It Possible?
The question was asked a few weeks ago on my Mailbag forum: how much do my beliefs influence my characters in my books? To put it another way, how much are my characters a reflection of who I am as a human being?
I suppose it is possible for a fiction writer to publish books that do not reflect his/her persona and beliefs, but I really can’t imagine it ever happening to me. One of the reasons I love writing so much is because it gives me a way to communicate with others my feelings and beliefs through stories. I am, deep down, a storyteller, and my stories always reflect my core values. I just assumed it was that way with all writers. Perhaps I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.
So let’s play show and tell. I’ll share with you the central characters in my four novels and five novellas, and explain to you why those characters are, in fact, me.
The 12/59 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today
The was my first novel, this story is told in first person, and the narrator is Bill Hollis, a down-and-out alcoholic who just can’t seem to get his shit together. He’s a wise-ass smart-mouth who masks his insecurities by being sarcastic. Deep down inside he’s just a scared little boy who has no answers at all. 12/59 Shuttle
Meet me ten years ago when alcohol almost knocked me out of the ring of life permanently.
I was a mess, as is Bill Hollis. I had a good heart and deep down a good sense of right and wrong, but I just couldn’t get out of my own way. But my friends wouldn’t give up on me, and eventually I met a remarkable woman who understood the power of love and, well, here I am.
And that woman in real life, my wife Bev, is Sheila in my first novel. Sheila has the power to bring the dead back to life, as Bev did for me. Sheila sees life as a magical mystery tour, the wonder of it all, the majestic thrill of getting up in the morning knowing another day has dawned, another day when good will be done and love will be shared. That, in a nutshell, is my Bev.
The book has two central themes: love and save the planet.
The book is a window into my life.
Toby King seemingly had it all, a popular kid, a star athlete, a young man on the fast track to success….but then disaster struck, and Toby just didn’t know how to handle serious adversity, and his world fell apart, fueled by alcoholism and spiraling, spiraling, spiraling out of control….
And only the love of a good woman and a best friend could save Toby from himself.
Again, love is the central theme, and by now you might suspect that love is pretty important to me, as hopefully it is to you. You might also notice, if you read “Tobias,” that I believe in strong women characters. There are no shrinking violets in my books, no wimpy women incapable of getting through life with a strong man by their side. The women in my books will always be able to stand on equal footing with the men characters and, in fact, are often stronger than the men.
It’s what I believe.
It’s what I wish I would see more often in society.
Shadows Kill and Shadows over Innocence
The “” series is about vengeance and violent retribution. There is no other way to sugarcoat it. They are about the shadow characters in society who slip between the cracks of the criminal justice system and spread misery throughout society, and it is about Eli Baker, a man who has suffered greatly, who has seen loved ones suffer greatly, and who says “screw it” and decides to take matters into his own bloodstained hands. Shadow
Do I, the author, believe in vigilante justice? No, not at all, but I certainly understand it when it happens. We live in a turbulent time, and millions of people are afraid, frustrated and pissed as hell. Eli is one of those people and he decides it is time to be a rather forceful part of the solution to society’s problems.
Throughout the “Shadows” series you will notice the theme of friendship and family, and how important those bonds are. You will also be treated to Eli’s philosophy about life, his thoughts about what he sees and experiences, and his thoughts are mine on a variety of topics.
And his girlfriend, Liz, is one strong woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone.
The Billy the Kid Chronicles: Five Installments and Growing
Billy O’Dowd, also known as Billy Fix-It or , handles problems for people, problems that fall outside the legalities of our justice system. Billy grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, just a street rat who learned early on the importance of family and close friends. It was a tough childhood and Billy learned how to survive, and one survives by doing anything necessary…but above all, one does anything for family and friends. Billy the Kid
I believe that. I don’t believe in violence but I do believe family and friends are always there for each other. When threatened, you pull up the drawbridge and take on all comers. Period! Anyone who threatens family and friends is, by definition, an enemy. Threaten my family and that “love they neighbor” stuff goes right out the window.
Do I believe in Billy’s violent ways? Of course not, but I do believe that family supports family. Friends support friends. That’s how I was raised and that’s what I’ll always believe.
Read any of these novellas and you’ll also meet Genna, Billy’s wife and also a very strong woman.
In fact, you’ll meet quite a few strong women in the “Billy the Kid” novellas. There are Paula and Mindi, both hookers with hearts of gold and a strong sense of friendship and loyalty. There are secondary players in the series, waitresses and cleaning women, hairdressers and ranch-hands, women who are absolute rocks when trouble comes a’callin’.
And there is one other theme that weaves its way through all of my novels, and that theme is the complicated nature of human beings. Often what we see of a person is only a very small percentage of what that person is like. I believe there is good, and the capacity for evil, in all of us. I believe that drug addicts and hookers all have value. Even my vigilante “good guys” have dark sides and a willingness, at times, to let loose the hounds of hell if it serves their purpose, and yet the next day they are doing charitable works for the church or helping old ladies across the street.
We are complicated animals, we humans, and I want my novels to show that.
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So There You Go
There will be more in the “Shadows” series as well as the “Billy the Kid” novellas. There will be a second “Shuttle” book eventually, and there will also be a reflective novel about life growing up the 60’s, a coming of age novel that will be about as close to autobiographical as I’ll ever get…..
I thank you for stopping by and reading my ramblings. I just wanted to share my characters with you and, by so doing, share a bit of me with you as well.
That is, after all, what we fiction writers do.
If you’re interested at all, you can find all of my books on Amazon in ebook form as well as paperback. Just look for William D. Holland….that’s me!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor