In real life, I’m a reasonably happy person. I like people, and enjoy seeing everyone around me prosperous and joyful. When I needed a villain for Fantastic America, I had to construct a person a far removed from me as possible. The result is homicidal maniac and magic user, Jerry Farmer.
Even before the return of magic, Jerry was incarcerated in a mental hospital for his first kill. Unfulfilled magical talent can drive people insane, and Jerry literally grew up with specters of his abilities all around him. From a young age, Jerry could see ghosts. No one believed him, and his family went to great lengths to suppress his ‘hallucinations’, to no avail.
When we meet Jerry in the short story, “Bridgewater Bingo” he’s been locked away and regularly sedated for several years. The return of magic, allows Bingo, a wraith in the hospital, to help Jerry escape. Bingo has an agenda separate from Jerry. Like all wraiths, his instinct at self-preservation is stronger than any desire to complete his mission.
The worrisome part for me about these two horrible characters is how easy they were to write. Jerry loves to kill, especially women, and Bingo is a rather inept manipulator. Neither of them are anything like me, but there must be some echo of their psyche inside me as their creator. I feel guilty in a way for bringing them to life on the page.
I’ve had great feedback about them and their inclusion in the novel. That makes it worse for me. I’ve begrudgingly expanded Jerry’s part in Fantastic America from three small snippets to several interludes between chapters. His role and contributions to the story have expanded, too.
It’s hard for me to reconcile the loathing I have for these characters with the way they’ve grown since the short story. I needed a murderer, and Jerry fit the bill. I wanted him to have magic, to show how truly dangerous power in the wrong hands could be. Check. Later in the story, I needed a way to introduce the real mover behind the shadows in their world. Jerry was the perfect way to show him without revealing too much, too soon. Just know I don’t like him!
You can download, “Bridgewater Bingo” for free to see what I mean for yourself. The link is in the sidebar, or follow the same link here – https://fantastic-writer-2554.ck.page/68b9b00627