How Characters Change With Real Life

Guest Blogger: Eric Van Lustbader

When I created the character of Jack McClure for FIRST DAUGHTER, I made him very much like me. He was a dyslexic. My dyslexia is far less severe than Jack’s is, but nonetheless it created both challenges and advantages for me. I kept exchanging letters within words, exchanging some words for others. On the other hand, my mind works exceedingly quickly, and my dyslexia allows me to concentrate almost preternaturally on my writing—as well as whatever else I set my sights on.

In the beginning, Jack’s main relationship was with Allie Carson, the president’s daughter. Jack’s own daughter—and Allie’s best friend—had been killed in an auto accident. Allie was estranged from her parents, so it became logical that the two of them should forge a father-daughter relationship. This relationship perfectly mirrors the one I have with my god-daughter, whose relationship with her own father was never good. I became her second father. When I started thinking about FIRST DAUGHTER, I knew I wanted to explore that unusual and rewarding relationship.

But time marches on and everything changes. Last year, my wife and I took our god-daughter to Paris, making good on a promise we had made to her years before. In Paris, she met a guy, they fell in love, and now they are married, living in Geneva, where he works at CERN as a particle physicist. An amazing story, but also an end to the first part of my relationship with her.

So, too, with Alli. In FATHER NIGHT, her story arc comes to a most satisfying conclusion, closing the book, so to speak, on the first four novels in the series. As with my god-daughter, Alli will be moving to Europe—Paris, not Geneva—to take a position with Interpol. She may get her own series one day, but for the time being Jack’s new main relationship is with Annika Dementieva, whom readers first met in LAST SNOW, the second novel in the series.

For me, the most exciting and rewarding aspect to writing is to mold the relationships and futures of my main characters in the same way those things change in real life. In the Jack McClure series, readers are given the opportunity to experience these changes in much the same way I do. It’s something I know they appreciate.


Eric Van Lustbader is the author of many New York Times bestselling thrillers, including FIRST DAUGHTER, LAST SNOW and BLOOD TRUST. Lustbader was chosen by Robert Ludlum’s estate to continue the Jason Bourne series, and his Bourne novels include THE BOURNE LEGACY and THE BOURNE BETRAYAL. He and his wife live in New York City and on the South Fork of Long Island.


One Comment:

  1. My characters follow a similar path, mirroring myself and my life. Many years ago I wrote a story about a man who road a train. One time, I rode a train.

    In that story my character knows a person. In my own life I have known not only one person, but many people–so many that it would take both of my hands to count them all.

    Finally, I once wrote a story when I was eight years old,

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