Musings about character building and dynamics on the current work in progress.
I knew that writing Gabe’s book was going to be a challenge. One of the dynamics is the degree to which Gabe has to balance his love for Ruby with the growing number of lies he has to tell because he’s operating under a false identity. That was an issue even when I was writing the main part of The Martiniere Legacy. Why didn’t Gabe come clean to Ruby about who he really was and why he was on the run before the mounting weight of all the lies forced their divorce when he reached a crisis point? Full disclosure to the woman he loved would have been the simplest solution.
And yet he didn’t do that.
Maintaining those lies without disclosing them to Ruby is Gabe’s biggest flaw. His secrecy and paranoia, in the guise of protection. By the time of The Heritage of Michael Martiniere, Gabe’s learned his lesson. He imparts it to his father’s clone, Mike, as hard as he can.
And yet Gabe took a HUGE secret to his grave which ends up having a major impact on his son Brandon, Mike, Ruby, and others (and is a significant driver of the climax of The Heritage of Michael Martiniere). In the end that part of him that sought to protect those he loves by being paranoid and secretive not only destroys him, but it hurts those dear to him. He tries to recover before he dies by means of leaving videos triggered by search algorithms, and the groundwork for him to be able to eventually manifest himself as a digital clone, but none of those measures would have been necessary if he had Just. Told. Someone. Preferably Ruby.
So part of Broken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere has to deal with that flaw in Gabe’s reasoning and build it so that Gabe’s reactions make sense. Gabe is spooked and scared, plus he still carries the weight of being beaten and mentally abused by Philip, the man he thought was his uncle (but was really his father) as well as some rather freaky mind control conditioning. Think of the Martinieres as modern-day Borgias, and perhaps that gives you a picture of what’s going on. Gabe is paranoid about eating and drinking in public because the Martinieres can and sometimes do slip nasty things into consumables to either reinforce mind control programming or kill someone. Or they do the same thing on clothing (I lifted Alexsander Navalny’s Novichok poisoning via underwear only using a psychotropic as one experience Gabe underwent). Gabe’s granddaughter Lily turns out to be particularly deft at doing this, which causes problems for Mike in Heritage.
The other piece is that Gabe is fundamentally a very decent man, in spite of lying his head off to keep his identity secret. He really is a woman’s dream partner in so many ways. Sometimes I think I’m writing him to be too nice, and then I remember. He’s lying to Ruby. When Gabe panics and decides that it’s best to force a divorce, he does some very ugly things to her as a cheating spouse. Some of that is under the influence of the Family’s mind control, because Philip wants to shred Gabe and make him suffer before pushing him into suicide. Gabe manages to fight off the suicide triggers (with the unknown assistance of the woman assigned to bring him down), but at the cost of completely destroying his relationship with Ruby, the woman he deeply loves. It takes twenty-one years and another crisis before Gabe and Ruby reunite.
And that’s basically the result of flawed choices that Gabe made.
It’s not easy to write. I find myself dodging some difficult sequences, just like I did when drafting Heritage. There are just some parts I can’t write, and others that I have to work my way toward carefully.
That said, Gabe’s book is not as big as Michael’s book. I’m about halfway through it right now, at something like 29,000 words, and on the brink of writing the toughest part. I have no problems with hitting the deadline to put it out in late April.
It’s not all grim, either.
But when it gets dark…hoo boy.