Thursday, December 27, 2012

One Character I Didn’t Have to Research

by suspense author C.J. West

Earlier this year I set out to create a hero for a new series. I wanted him to be different from my other protagonists. Someone likeable. Someone quirky and in touch with what’s going on in the world. Someone rugged who can handle himself in an alley.

In the last two years I’ve been spending a lot more time with my family and at some point I realized my brother was the guy for the job. He’s a riot in person and so is his wife. He’s a total redneck with quirks that will keep readers entertained. The thing that sealed it for me was his work with recovering addicts.

My brother works in construction and maintenance. In the last several years he has been working on programs that provide housing to recovering addicts and others that need transitional help. Not only does he work on these programs, but his crew is made up of guys leaving the programs. I worked alongside these guys for a few days and got to know them while we worked. Their stories helped me infuse my characters with the real life struggles addicts face.

This all sounds like research, and it was. If you are still wondering about the character I didn’t have to research for this book, it’s me.

As the story came along, my brother had two sidekicks, both recovering addicts who proved quite unreliable. In times when he couldn’t turn to his crew for help, who better than a brother who works from home and is always available day or night?

I bet this sounds really strange to some of you, but for me it made a lot of sense. I’ve been really engaged with my readers ever since the Myspace days. I’ve held all sorts of live and online events, always trying to give my readers a chance to interact with me. Making myself a character fit the story and it also gave my loyal fans a chance to know me on a more personal basis without distracting new readers from the story.

In Dinner At Deadman’s, Lorado often turns to his little brother, Chris. (That’s my real name.) Being the author and a character in the novel gave me a chance to have some fun, so I did a few interesting things with my character.

Everything I say in the book is true. Since I wrote the book, of course I know everything that happens past, present, and future. It’s cool to be omniscient and my character really enjoyed it. I will caution you though, sometimes what I say may be true in a literal sense and still be misleading.

The other interesting thing about being in a book with my brother is that our relationship comes out on the page. He knows me and the things he says about my past are all true. If you ever wondered what kind of guy I was, whether I was a player or the kind of kid every grandmother loves, pick up a copy of Dinner At Deadman’s and find out.

C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor). C.J. blogs at You can also find him at or at


  1. What a fun idea! I've been tempted, but haven't done that yet. In the last novel I wrote, I modeled one character's aunt after me (sort of) because it worked for the story, but I changed her name. I'm very curious about your book now. Way to hook the reader. :)

  2. Thanks L.J.

    My brother makes a great hero and I seemed like a natural extension of his character. It was a fun idea. I'm still waiting for the first uncomfortable question about my family or romantic life, but most people don't realize that Chris is me.

  3. BTW... It's great to be back for a visit to CFC.

  4. People think they see me in a lot of my characters, and I suppose to a certain extent, they're right. Even when I'm basing a character after someone else entirely, there's probably a bit of me that creeps in.

    As L.J. said, it's a great way to hook a reader.

    It was good to see you here again, C.J.


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