Brian has been a staple of my books since I introduced him briefly in Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, and fully introduced him in Caught in a Web. He has undergone changes as well as challenges, but what has definitely become his hallmark is his honesty and integrity, despite all I’ve thrown at him between the pages.
In Splintered Lives, Brian lost his twin brother, Brad, who also has continued in each of the stories. Those of you who have read my work will recognize him and understand his role. In Caught in a Web, Brian lost his parents and was adopted by Jeremy. In Spiral Into Darkness, he took on a mentally unstable character in the woods in a blinding snowstorm, and also struggled with his own sexuality. Both storylines continue through the next books.
But it was in Betrayed where we saw Brian’s honesty and integrity play out, almost to his death.
Sidebar: those of you who read my work, know my book titles have an obvious meaning, but also several other meanings that are gleaned from careful reading. The title, Betrayed, has no less than a double, even triple meaning to it.
In Betrayed, Brian makes a promise to his mother to watch over his two brothers, Brett and George. She reasons George will be primarily focused on finding his missing childhood friend and might not be aware of pitfalls as he encounters them. Brett can be impulsive and tends to do (and say) things his own way. She doesn’t want harm to come to them, and she also doesn’t want harm to come to Brian. But Brian doesn’t pay much attention to the harm as it comes his way, because he is intent on protecting George and Brett.
For all Brian and Brett know, they are going hunting for elk, something they never hunted before. They have no idea that the hunters become the hunted, and neither of them understand why until the end. So initially, Brian sees the promise he made as benign, something one brother would do for another.
But as the story plays out, events and situations become more threatening and he realizes that by protecting his brothers, he will put his own life on the line. This becomes apparent as he sits in a booth in a small rundown bar/diner late at night and writes a letter to Jeremy and Vicky, his parents. Brian’s honesty and integrity come through clearly. The letter to his parents, in part, reads:
Dan and Mom,
I needed to write this letter to you because I don’t know if Brett or George or I will make it back home. There is some serious stuff happening here. None of us know exactly what it is, but we’re in the middle of it.
… Mom, I want you to know that I will do everything I can to make sure Brett and George are safe. I know Brett means more to you than George or me, and Dad, I know George means more to you than me. After all, he was adopted before I was. So, if I have to make a choice about whether it’s them or me who might die, I will try to make sure they live. I’m okay with that. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve accepted it. It’s okay.
Heady stuff for a fifteen-year-old. But he’s no stranger to death. He watched his twin brother die. He lived through his parents’ death. Of the brothers, he is the most religious and his spirituality guides him.
Another example of Brian’s honesty and integrity are on display in the second chapter of my newest book, Fan Mail. Brian is in a sophomore English class discussing the book, Lord of the Flies. The teacher, Penny Rios, poses the question, Who do you think is a strong, independent character? Perhaps a leader? The answers range from Ralph to Jack to Piggy. It reads, in part:
“Brian, you’re pretty silent today. What are your thoughts?”
He said, “It depends upon what you think strong means. Honestly, I don’t think any of them are strong. Being strong means having integrity. Ralph didn’t defend Piggy even when he was being picked on. If he had integrity, he would have defended Piggy no matter who was against him. Jack broke rules he felt weren’t necessary, even though there needed to be
order. A person with integrity doesn’t break rules just because he might not like them. Piggy whined and complained, but he tried to establish order. I think because of his size and his whining, no one paid attention to him. A leader has to have followers.”
“What is your definition of integrity?” Rios asked.
Brian didn’t wait to be called upon. He said, “Someone who speaks the truth and lives it even when others don’t. A person who is genuine.”
“That can make someone pretty unpopular, don’t you think?”
Brian nodded and said, “It’s what makes someone strong. Speaking the truth and following the rules, no matter who else does or doesn’t. Being willing to take a stand, even if it’s unpopular. Standing up for your beliefs. If you don’t do those things, you don’t have integrity and you aren’t strong.”
The thing about Brian my readers have come to know and understand, is that he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Later in the book, he demonstrates his integrity and honesty even to the point of death, once again.
The title of this post is Fiction Parallels Reality, Honesty and Integrity.
Characters come from the author’s imagination. In this case, me. Brian embodies my belief about honesty and integrity. I’ve tried to live my life (and write my books) as honestly as I can. Honesty and integrity are very important to me. I gravitate towards those who exemplify these two traits, and I shy away and barely tolerate those who do the opposite. I try to live my life truthfully, and I try to live my life with integrity. In the end, that is all you leave in this world. One’s reputation is built on this foundation- either you have it, or you lack it, and I think we are quick to see who has it and who doesn’t.
For those of you who might be interested, I’ve placed the book descriptions and links for my books mentioned in this post below. I hope you give them a read. I also hope you give me some feedback on this post. I’m hoping you find it helpful and thought-provoking. As always, thanks for checking in and joining me on this journey.
Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!
Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
Fan Mail – A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!
A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.
As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.
Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?
Amazon Link: amzn.to/3eNgSdS Black Rose Writing Link: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/fanmail