Some people, in reading Hunter, might have some questions about my choices. For example, they might want to know why I’d want to write about Sudbury, which is a frankly dull little suburb outside of Boston. They might want to know why I’d want to write about a site with ties to King Phillip’s War (Metacomet’s War), a conflict I’m pretty sure few people outside of new England remember happened.
And, because this is something that came up with my book Rites of Spring, they’ll have some questions about one of the heroes, Luis. Why did I make him Brazilian? Could the story not have been told with another white main character?
The first reason the story had to be told with a Brazilian lead is that when I went looking for faces to be the main character, the one who captured my attention as the most appropriate for who I had in mind happened to be a Brazilian model. I went with his background. It was that simple. The face I kept seeing every time I plotted out scenes belonged to a Brazilian man, so my character was going to be Brazilian.
The other reason the nature of the story itself. I wanted to write a story that took a good look at New England, and when you’re deeply tied into something you don’t notice things as much as an outsider would. The character whose slot Luis came to fill had to be an outsider.
Now, in New England, if you moved in from the next block over you’re considered to be “from out of town.” So you have to take the whole “outsider” thing with a grain of salt, especially from a local. I needed to make the main character someone who was visibly, noticeably, viscerally different from the rest of the people around him. The fact that Luis is gay isn’t such a big deal in the immediate Boston area. There are people who do have issues with it, as we see in the book, but for the most part it’s not a bad place to be LGBTQ+.
The color of his skin? That’s a different story. Boston has a reputation for being very liberal, but we aren’t very far removed from the busing crisis of the 1970s. While there were a lot of layers to that crisis (and this is not the place to get into them), race is still an issue in everyday life here. Not for everyone, but I know from my personal experience it’s not the utopia people like to pretend it is.
(Ask players of color who’ve played at Fenway.)
So in essence, I wanted to emphasize Luis’ status as someone outside the mainstream in Boston. The greater Boston area does have a large Brazilian population, so he does have a community he could be part of if he were sticking around.
I like having an outsider character in a story like Hunter, where the story is about a place as much as it is about the people, because it lets me show the location as it is, not how the locals see it. For Luis, Boston drivers are a new experience and a fresh threat, not the norm. For Luis, the Boston accent is almost a new language to decipher, not just what he hears every day.
For Luis, his outsider status gives him opportunities to observe others without preconceived notions or attachments to one point of view. It gives him a distinct advantage in his job as a profiler. It gives him some disadvantages too, which become a problem in Hunter. When we start the story, though, as far as Luis is concerned being an outsider is the only way to be.
What about you? Do you like outsider characters, or do you prefer characters with deep connections to the story setting? Why?
Luis has spent his career chasing the darker side of life. First a vice cop, then an FBI profiler, now he lands in the Boston field office, and not by choice. He expects his caseload to have a much lighter tone than he’s used to.
He wasn’t counting on New England’s dark history, or their pride in it. He didn’t understand how close-knit the old towns could be, or how protective they were of their own. He soon finds he’s going to have to count on every skill he ever used in his time at headquarters, and a few skills he didn’t know he had, if he wants to keep body and soul together.
Complicating matters is a new case Luis has just been handed, working with the Mass. State Police. Luis has history there, and ugly history too. Detective Donovan Carey is the guy who broke Luis’ heart over a decade ago. He wasn’t willing to even peek his head outside the closet, certainly not for someone like Luis. Can they put their history aside to deal with a mystery centuries in the making?
Available in eBook or paperback Nov. 20, 2018