At one of the library talks I gave in Glasgow recently, I was asked if the hero of my books, Craig Campbell, was my alter ego. The question surprised me and I answered it as well as I could at the time. I have thought a little more about it and would like to try to put those thoughts into words.
The first thing about Craig, he is considerably younger than I am (and he has more hair!) Am I hankering after a lost youth? Possibly, but in truth I had made a conscious decision that my detective would not be a middle-aged man. I felt that because he was a private-eye he didn’t need to be in the age range of a senior police detective. It gave me the opportunity to make him less world-weary, less cynical.
Craig is braver than I ever could be. He faces down criminals with a confidence that I could only dream of. He does not bow to threats and is prepared to defend himself no matter the provocation. These are, of course, essential qualities in the hero of a book, I only wish I could have his sense of valour.
There are other ways in which my hero does reflect his creator. He has, I hope, the same moral compass. He feels for the victims and is stubborn in his pursuit of the perpetrators. This comes from a sense of decency that runs through him and is a key part of his personality.
He is loyal to his friends and has a strong relationship based on good foundations with his girlfriend, Carol. I felt that these were qualities that were important, I wanted him to be likable, even if I enjoy books where the main character has few friends and is a failure in any relationship. Whether these traits are reflected in my own character would be for other people to judge.
I’m not sure how other writers would answer the question, I’m sure that everyone puts a little of themselves into their protagonist. I would imagine many would feel that their lead character has at least a little of the writer in there somewhere.
No matter whether it is ego or alter ego, Craig is a part of me and a little bit of me is a part of him.