I’ve signed up (as #530) to do the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I decided I would spotlight some of my favorite, most memorable characters I’ve brought to life over the years. My initial list had a few non-character topics (Ambidexterity, MacWriteII, Twilight sleep, and Xenoglossy), but I decided to just be consistent and do characters throughout. Since I’ve got so damn many of them, and I’ve used every letter of the alphabet many times over (I even have a number of X and Q characters!), I had an ample playing field.
Some of the characters to be profiled are antagonists, and some, while not antagonists per se, aren’t exactly very pleasant people either. But I enjoy writing all of them, and feel there’s something realistic about all of them. You’ve probably met at least a few people with similar stories and personal traits, or heard about people like them. They stand out to me as three-dimensional people, with believable motivations, realistic actions and speech (even if it’s repugnant), the kind of people who don’t just fade into the woodwork.
Each entry starts off with some paragraphs telling a little about the character, and then provides some favorite, typical, and representative lines, scenes, and mentions to give you a little sense of what they’re all about, in their own words. In many cases, since I’ve been with the majority of these characters for so many, many years, these samplings are just the tip of the iceberg. But even I’m not that verbose that I’d post something that equals out to scores of printed pages!
Along the way, you’ll meet characters such as:
Kálmán Rein, a teen Hungarian Shoah survivor full of rage, bitterness, and grumpiness after what he’s been through. He wants to get the hell out of the gigantic graveyard that Europe has become, and is chomping at the bit to get on a ship going to Israel, even knowing about the British blockade. Kálmán can’t wait to start killing British and Arab soldiers, and to shed his so-called slave name and slave language.
Portia Hitchcock-Fredrickson, a materialistic, wealth-obsessed young lady who can’t understand why anyone would choose a less materialistic life path. She goes about trying to win over her crush in all the wrong ways, and then has a life-changing experience that leads her to re-examine how she was living her life.
Daphne Vanessa Roblensky, née Filliard, a young woman who picked up some very pre-modern viewpoints somewhere along the way and is now convinced women are inferior to men (among other ridiculous things). Unfortunately for her, but to everyone else’s great entertainment, her joke of a teen marriage immediately begins to unravel when she realizes that marriage is a lot more than just playing house and introducing oneself as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name.
Officer Harry Baron, a Prohibition-violating cop who’s not afraid to tell it like it is and bring people violating actual serious laws to justice. He’s also not afraid to make friends with immigrants in a very xenophobic era.
Wolfram Engel, a gay Shoah survivor who leaves Germany for France after the War to avoid being put in prison again under Paragraph 175. He befriends a young French girl in the camps, Marie Sternglass, and ever after is her surrogate father, even walking her up to the chupah on her wedding day and serving as a grandfather to her children.
Marjani Washington, a feisty young woman from a Black Pride, feminist family in Hell’s Kitchen. She wears her hair in cornrows during an era when many African-American women were straightening their hair or wearing wigs to look more white.
Agrafena Spiridonovna Likachëva (Granyechka), a priest’s daughter who starts off as a plaster saint of sorts, but then comes to a more mature, realistic faith and life outlook after going through the unthinkable tragedy of losing both of her children to diphtheria, having a miscarriage, and having a stillbirth, and discovering her former fiancé, still a family friend, isn’t so sincere in his claims of repentance.
Urma Pancake Smart, the psychopath of psychopaths I’ve ever created, an intolerant fundamentalist who thinks everything but breathing and reading the Bible her way is a sin. She only gets even more criminal, sociopathic, and psychotic as she gets older, and ends up all alone but for her nutcase pseudominister. In Urma’s mind, revenge and crime are very Christian values, and she gets much of the money to fund her criminal schemes through the black market.
Rabbi Joshua Otto Brandt, a reactionary, rigid, homophobe who’s actually intelligent and kind-hearted beneath his intolerant, ignorant exterior. If only he’d stop running his mouth to all the wrong people and putting his foot in his mouth long enough to express his more enlightened, modern views more often. At least he finally wakes up to what a bigot he’s been to his own gay cousin after the lynching of Matthew Shepard.
Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov, one of my favorite antagonists, who started out as an essentially decent guy with some uncouth character traits. Once he was out on his own and no longer able to be held in check by parents and teachers, his dark side started getting the better of him, till sinning was more familiar. He has some periods where he’s pretty good, but the lure of sin is too sweet, too strong in him, preferable to the long, hard work of self-examination and permanent repentance.