Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who is Seamus Winshell in LIGHT HIDDEN BY DARKNESS?

Click Link to Order Light Hidden by Darkness 

One of my favorite characters of all time is in my new novel, Light Hidden by Darkness. His name is Seamus Winshell and to say that Seamus Winshell is a complicated character would be an understatement. As the author of Light Hidden by Darkness, I have to admit that more time and effort went into the creation of Seamus Winshell than any other character I have ever written about, including Chayton from Shadows on the Trail.

 If I had to describe an analogy for Seamus Winshell's personality, I would use a crystal prism.  If I aimed a beam of white light at the crystal prism, the prism would absorb the white light. When the  light exits the other side of the crystal prism, the white light has transformed into a variety of colors. Seamus Winshell's personality is much like this. Input from the world strikes Seamus Winshell and his response comes in a variety of colors, much like the colors in a rainbow. Except, in the case of Seamus, his response may not be beautiful or positive or even constructive. 

Highlighted in blue is dialogue from a scene in Light Hidden by Darkness. This particular scene gives one perspective from Seamus’s complex personality. In this scene, he is in one of his few  vulnerable and reasonable moods. Believe me, he is not often this vulnerable or reasonable. In this scene, Seamus is on an outing with a woman acquaintance, a woman named Gloria. See if you can determine anything about Seamus's personality from the exchange. 
Seamus walked out of the elevator and instantly looked up and saw the dark sky above. They were on the roof of the building, high enough above the city to touch the clouds. The lights of the city reflected off the clouds, making them glow iridescently in the night sky. Seamus looked up and watched the fast-moving clouds rolling past the roof of the building.

"Come here,” Gloria insisted.

Seamus walked towards Gloria and noticed that she was standing very close to the edge of the roof. Gloria peeked over the edge, balancing herself with her arms as the light evening breeze gently pushed her. She gave Seamus a smile.

“Be careful, Gloria!” Seamus warned. “There is no railing around the roof!”

“I’m always careful when I do this,” she announced.

Gloria slid her toes even further out near the edge of the roof. Seamus offered his hand to Gloria, but she just shook her head, refusing to accept it. Instead, she pushed her feet an inch or so further towards the edge of the roof.

“Back up, Gloria!” Seamus pleaded. “You are scaring me!”

“No!” Gloria refused. “Join me out here, it’s a thrill!”

“Not a chance in hell!”

“Are you scared?”

“I am absolutely petrified and proud of it.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” Gloria laughed. “You are afraid! Come join me.”

Gloria held out her hand to Seamus and he reached out, grabbing it. He pulled on Gloria’s arm, trying with all of his strength to pull her away from the ledge, but the more he pulled, the more Gloria fought back. Seamus dug in his heels and pulled hard on Gloria’s arm, but she just pulled harder. Seamus jerked at her arm, causing Gloria to lose her balance. Gloria rotated her free arm and body to regain her balance and to keep from plummeting over the side of the building.

“Stop pulling on me or I will jump and take you with me!” Gloria proclaimed.

“Okay! Okay!” Seamus replied and then stopped pulling on her arm. Seamus let Gloria pull him closer to the edge of the roof.

“Scared?” Gloria asked.

“Terrified is a better word!” Seamus exclaimed.

Seamus looked down and saw that the toe of Gloria’s high heel extended out past the lip of the roof. Gloria leaned out over the ledge and peered down at the street below.

“Stop!” Seamus shouted.

“I won’t stop until you look down” Gloria replied, holding tightly onto Seamus’s hand. “If I fall, you fall.”

Seamus was too petrified to look down. He hated heights. Still grasping Gloria’s hand, he knelt down on his knees and grabbed the edge of the roof with his free hand. Gloria let go of his other hand and Seamus crawled away on all fours, away from the edge of the building. When he was safely away from the edge, he looked at Gloria and saw her teetering back and forth, first leaning out over the ledge and then pulling herself back. A wind gust of any kind would have taken her over the side of the building.

“I am not leaving here until you look down!” Gloria threatened.
Seamus slowly crawled back to the edge of the building, shaking like a leaf in a windstorm. Finally, he held his breath and peered over the lip of the building. Fear enveloped him when he saw the tiny street below. He crawled away from the edge of the building and laid on the roof, rolled up in a fetal position.

“There, I did it!” Seamus announced. “Now, get away from the edge!”

"Ha! Ha! Ha!” Gloria laughed. “You act like such a big tough guy, but you’re not!”

Gloria began hula dancing on the edge of the roof, swirling her hips wider and wider. Her body swayed back and forth. She picked up the pace and her body swung farther and farther, her high heels creaking under the strain of her movement.

“STOP IT!” Seamus screamed…

Without spoiling the book, let's just say this is not the typical mood of the cantankerous Seamus Winshell. Nuff said...

One question that readers ask me often is where I came up with a character Seamus Winshell? Was he someone I knew in the past? How did I create him? I usually reply by telling the questioner that Seamus Winshell is a composite character. His personality comes from a variety of sources and ties back to his various roles and responsibilities in life or in his 'book life'. Seamus Winshell is a father, husband, businessman and acquaintance. For each of these roles, his personality changes. The reader sees Seamus Winshell through the different colors flowing through his crystal prism. The reader sees a different Seamus Winshell for each separate role in his life. The reader gets to see Seamus Winshell's strengths and weaknesses from a bird's eye view.

Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good As It Gets. As
Melvin Udall, he carries several different personalities.  

In his role as a father, Seamus is one person while as a husband he is another person. As  a business executive, Seamus is an entirely different person. It might sound like Seamus has multiple personalities, but I don't think so. He is doing what we all do. He is utilizing  different parts of his personality for his different roles or situations. We all do this. Don’t you?
Bottom line, Seamus Winshell is a complicated fellow and as my main character, he has every right to be!

When I read books or watch movies or TV, I always like to see how an author, writer, or director portrays and develops certain characters. Are the characters single-faceted or complex? Is the character believable or are they like a sheet of cardboard, no depth and flimsy to the touch? I love complex characters, especially those found in books written by skilled authors. A good author knows how to paint a word picture of the basic essence of a character while still allowing the reader the leeway to interpret the character’s behavior. The reader can then develop his or her own perspective of the character within the context of the story. How many debates have occurred when different readers have different interpretations of the same character? Personally, I love to unravel the mysteries of characters and find out whom they really are, what makes them tick, or more appropriately, what I think makes them tick.

In, Black Swan Natalie Portman played
one of the most bizarre characters
in any movie ever and she had
but two hours to portray the role.  
 In movies and TV series, much of the depth of the characters comes from the script and the actor/actress who plays the part. Since movies are only about two hours long; the actor, script, and director have a tough time giving the character any depth. When the movie is character driven more than story driven, the producers bring in the big guns such as Pacino and Streep.

Okay, I am beginning to meander all over the place. Let me get back to our protagonist, Seamus Winshell, my character. More than anything else, I wanted Seamus Winshell to seem real to readers. I wanted to demonstrate to readers that he had certain strengths and was successful in some aspects of his life. I also wanted Seamus to demonstrate that he was vulnerable and unsuccessful in other aspects of his life. To me, this is reality. Few people are successful at all aspects of their lives and more than a few people have tremendous challenges in their lives. Seamus Winshell, like most of us, had these challenges and Seamus Winshell, like most of us, had to decide how he would deal with these challenges. There was only one important difference between Seamus Winshell and you and I.

Well, I am not going to tell you what that difference is, you will

just have to read Light Hidden by Darkness to find out.        

Click to Enter Seamus's World

No comments:

Post a Comment