Craig Allen Heath
My Fictional Doppelganger
When the characters and story of my novel, Where You Will Die, were first being formed, I made the protagonist, Alan Wright, my (nearly) exact double.
It is said that authors always write their main characters as autobiographical. But in this case, I went to an extreme. I decided he would have my exact birthday, height, weight, complexion and clothing choices, physical and mental health issues, philosophy, cosmology, outlook on life, fears, loves, strengths, and weaknesses.
But I made him a much better man than I am. Alan Wright is a real minister, if an unorthodox one, a man who helps people in real and hands-on ways. He feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless, visits and consoles the sick and dying, the prisoner and the widow. While he is Christian only nominally, having been raised Catholic, he believes the lessons of the man called Jesus of Nazareth offer us a simple guide for how to live and love, how to take care of each other, how to honor the lives we have been given.
I believe all that. But I lack the courage he has to make that belief real. It is through him that I hope to make an iota of positive effect on the world.
I made one other deviation from his carbon-copy nature - I made him younger.
When I began writing, I was fifty-nine years old. I told my wife I would give him my exact birthdate, so Alan would be my age.
She said I couldn't do that. He'd be too old to be attractive to the female characters. That was a punch in the gut. But I asked a long-time male friend, who always gives me his honest opinions. He said the same thing. Ouch.
So, I made him seven years younger. For some reason, my wife and my friend both believe fifty-two is not too old for a man to turn heads. But fifty-nine is over the hill and through the woods, halfway to Grandma's house.
Alan has another advantage on me. Between the first book of the series and the second, he ages only nine months. By the time I publish that sequel, Killing Buddhas, I will be seven years older.
We are like the twins in the speed-of-light thought experiment, where one flies off to distant planets and returns to Earth aged a year, only to find his brother is long dead and buried. By the time I finish the series, Alan will likely be only fifty-nine, and I will exist only as a name on the book cover, and perhaps a memory in a few hearts.
I couldn't ask for more.
Blatant Self-Promotion Section
Because the birthday I share with Alan is coming up, we're putting the Kindle eBook version of Where You Will Die on sale at 70% off - only 99¢ - From May 25 to May 31.
If you've read it, please tell a friend. If you haven't, please pick up and copy and tell a friend.
And you would do me an honor and a favor if you'd post a review of it - good bad or indifferent - on Amazon, or wherever you make your ideas known.