I am so excited to have T.S. O'Neil here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt, Guest Post and Giveaway.
Thanks T.S. and Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me to join your Mexican Hat Trick Blog Tour!
Please take it away, T.S.!
Creating Memorable Characters
The inspiration for creating interesting and memorable characters comes from lots of different places. One of my favorite characters, Eidetic Eddie Doyle, is a composite character, based on memorable literary characters who were detectives — Detective Hoke Moseley from Miami Blues and Travis McGee, for examples. Eddie lives on a boat like McGee and is a bit long in the tooth like Moseley, but I also took inspiration from real life. A very dear friend is a private detective who specializes in trademark anti-counterfeiting, as does Eddie — at least in my latest book, Mexican Hat Trick. Like Moseley, Eddie is a decent guy and a good detective, but he’s older and a little shopworn. I think that’s the part that appeals to some readers in that he reminds them of themselves or people they know.
The inspiration for the character of Char Blackfox, the main protagonist in Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, and Mudd’s Luck, came from various places. I wanted to create someone memorable, and before starting Tampa Star, I had the opportunity to attend a Battlefield Walk with my Army Reserve unit on the Loxahatchee River in South Florida.
In 1838, the Seminoles fought two pitched battle against the U.S. Army. The Native Americans had experienced warriors with access to comparable weaponry as their foes — who were the usual mix of conscripts and seasoned Army veterans. More importantly, the federal troops were exhausted after having spent months on the trail in a forced march from Georgia. By all accounts, the Seminoles defeated the Army troops as the Native Americans were fortunate enough to occupy the high ground — which included having talented sharpshooters high among the branches of the ancient Cypress trees scattered about the battleground. After hearing about the fierce Seminole warriors, I decided to make them the inspiration for Char Blackfox.
At the beginning of Tampa Star, Char is shot in the leg while serving as a Green Beret in Vietnam. The incident that caused Char’s leg injury was based on a real event that happened to a former Army comrade of mine. In the narrative, Char is shot by a dead guy. In real life, my buddy nearly lost a leg because he killed a Viet Cong guerrilla and then pulled the rifle away from the dead man while his just dead finger still enveloped the trigger. My friend had to be reclassified as an MP because the seriousness of the injury made him unfit to serve in the infantry.
I like to think my villains are very memorable as I make them evil, but with subtle flaws that again, make them human and hopefully, more relatable. I’ve crafted a bloodthirsty Mafia Capo who had personal problems caused by his wife’s nephew, an illiterate drug lord who wants to be able to take his wife to the mall in the United States, and a diabetic Russian Arms dealer with a hacked insulin pump.
I was told by one of my editors that I stereotyped my female characters by making them all the same. I had to go back and reread the character descriptions before realizing that I made all my women characters just like your average teen boy likes his female comic book superheroes—large breasted, curvaceous and oozing sex. I also was told that I treated most of my female characters as sex objects. After hearing this criticism, I endeavored to do better for all my female readers by not stereotyping my female characters and making them more multi-dimensional. For example, I created an aggressive marathon running police detective, made one of my protagonist's ex-wife an accomplished artist and owner of a lucrative art gallery and crafted a love interest as a doctor with the International Red Cross.
I guess the point of my musing is to convey that inspiration for creating memorable characters can come from personal experience, history, and inspired invention. You should humanize the characters you create by giving them very human traits, both good and bad and be careful to avoid stereotyping.
Mexican Hat Trick
by T.S. O’Neil
GENRE: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare — south of the border.
It was late afternoon; at least an hour after the last lunchtime dinner had swilled his final Tequila Anejo and well before the restaurant began serving dinner. The owner of the traditional French restaurant was a good friend and fellow aficionado of Bolivian Marching powder and high class Russian fucking machines. He offered the location as a neutral meeting place after Chewy described his need.
A nearly new brown Ford Taurus — the kind you rented at the airport, entered the restaurant’s lot and parked next to Chewy’s Range Rover. A tall, dark-haired man exited, removed a leather case from the car and walked towards the entrance. Chewy retreated into the vestibule, backed into the lobby and nodded to the maître d’.
“Si, Senor, this way please,” said the Maître d'. The man led Chewy through the large ornately furnished dining room to a curtained off alcove at its rear. He parted the red velvet curtains with a practiced motion and pushed open the heavy wooden door. Behind it was a small darkly paneled room that looked more like a library than a dining area.
“Bring me a bottle of Don Julio Real and two glasses,” said Chewy. He figured a celebration might be in order. The owner of MM had agreed “in principle” to the deal, and Chewy felt that he would honor that commitment. If a celebration were not in order, he would just start his Friday evening a little early. Chewy took a seat at the far end of the round table with his back to the tapestry-covered wall. He carried a small snub nose revolver in an ankle holster but doubted he would need it. The gringo he was meeting was dressed more like a banker than a private detective.
The maître d’ opened the door, and the man entered. He smiled at Chewy, flashing a perfect set of bright white teeth and offered his hand. Chewy exhaled audibly and relaxed. He stood and took the man’s manicured palm in his meaty fist and forcefully shook it.
He handed Chewy a small ivory colored business card. “Eddie Doyle.”
“You got here quickly,” said Chewy.
“An important matter is deserving of the same level of attention.”
Chewy nodded thoughtfully. “Please sit down, I’ve ordered a bottle of excellent tequila — perhaps you will join me in a drink?”
The man smiled again. “There is always time for one.”
“Si, as we say down here, Uno, ninguno — which means one is nothing,” Chewy smiled as if proud for remembering to translate for the gringo.
The man nodded. “But first down to business.” He reached into a tan leather portfolio and removed a document and a small recorder. These are wiring instructions to your account. Please verify that they are correct. Once we complete your testimony, I’ll sign this document and fax it to the bank. You should have your money by close of business today.”
Chewy resisted the urge to smile — forcing himself to adopt the sober expression of a witness in a murder case. “I just want to do the right thing,” he said finally.
The man switched on the small recorder and placed in front of Chewy. “The microphone is very sensitive. Please tell me everything you know about who is counterfeiting Mountain Man apparel.”
Chewy sighed, unsure how to start. He hoped that the tequila would soon be delivered so they could have started with a toast that would perhaps lubricate his tongue. He licked his thick lips and smiled nervously.
The man sensed Chewy’s unease and poured him a glass of water from the pitcher on a sideboard and set it before him. Chewy shook his head in thanks and emptied the glass. The man refilled it, and Chewy took a short drink. He felt satiated and his initial nervousness dissipated.
Chewy spoke and did not stop until he had told all he knew about the international criminal enterprise involving the counterfeiting of MM apparel. And Chewy knew a lot — who was involved, where the goods were shipped, how they passed through customs undetected and most importantly, why no one at MM had discovered the operation.
“That’s about it,” said Chewy. “That is all I know.” He felt relieved his testimony was over but annoyed that the tequila had not arrived. As if on cue, the door opened, and a waiter entered caring carrying the ornate bottle, two blue tinted glasses and a small plate containing slices of lemon, lime and a tiny pile of salt. Chewy clasped his hands together. “Time to celebrate!”
The waiter filled the two glasses to the very top and retreated a few steps back from the table. Chewy reached for his glass and downed it. He grabbed the bottle, refilled it and drank another shot.
The man, Doyle, held his glass and stared at its content. “Salud,” he said, but his shot remained in the glass.
“What’s a matter, gringo, you don’t like tequila?” asked Chewy.
“Sorry, my friend, I’ve got a meeting with a very important man, and I can’t afford to have liquor on my breath.”
Chewy thought he detected something strange about the man’s accent but forgot about that as he suddenly felt nauseous. He thought he was going to be sick, and tried to get to his feet, but his legs felt like they had a mind of their own. He fell back into his chair as the room began to go in and out of focus. Chewy felt alternately dizzy and sleepy.
The man held the shot glass up to the chandelier, “you can’t see any of the particles — it dissolved completely.
The waiter laughed. “Fast acting as well. Fucking pendejo didn’t even have to be tricked. Puffer fish venom — very hard to get — I buy it from a dive master in Cozumel. He’s slipping into paralysis. The waiter reached out and slapped Chewy across the face. See, he’s numb, but fully aware. He’ll be unable to do anything except die. It should take about four hours or so.”
“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to drink it — they tell me the antidote is almost as bad,” said the man.
Chewy tried to speak, but his tongue felt numb. He mumbled something unintelligible. The men ignored him and continued talking.
“Just make sure you clean everything up,” said the man.
“No worries,” said the waiter. “I’ll dump the body in a tub of Muriatic Acid and most of him will dissolve in a few days. We do it all the time.”
The tall man shook his head, “The body needs to be found, and I’m not sure that they will determine he was poisoned — forensic science may not be the Federal Police’s strong suit.”
“I’ll choke him out after he’s unconscious,” said the waiter.
The gringo nodded in the affirmative. “I suppose that will do. Just make sure he has the business card on him and leave the body where it can be found.”
Chewy struggled to breathe. He almost surrendered to unconsciousness when the talk of his murder brought him back. He struggled to concentrate and summon himself to action. He had been poisoned — of that much he was certain. With what vigor he could muster, he reached down to his ankle and felt the reassuring handle of the revolver. He withdrew it and struggled to point it at one of the figures.
The waiter grabbed his wrist, forced it down to the table and easily removed the revolver from Chewy’s hand. “I’m keeping the pistol.”
“You can have the recorder as well. It just needs some batteries,” said the man.
Chewy struggled to maintain consciousness. He stared at the back of the waiter’s hand and recognized a small tattoo. The last thing Chewy Mendlevich would see on this earthly plain was a small black Z tattooed between the waiter’s thumb and forefinger.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management. He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne. He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.
All are available on Amazon.com
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