release of Quarry Steps Between, the
fourth in the Tony Quarry / Carolina Mystery crime novel series, someone asked
me about the derivation of the Tony Quarry character. Who is he? How was he
developed? In retrospect, I believe he’s an amalgam of my son, Tony, and me.
Quarry is similar to my son in his twenties and thirties. Massive at six feet,
two hundred thirty pounds, my son was quite strong, a weight lifter and martial
arts practitioner. As important as physical strength is to the character I
envisioned, it was ultimately potentiated by moral strength. One without the
other, in my mind, equals an incomplete human being.
I’ve also been
a weightlifter, have seriously practiced karate,
Quarry’s primary method of self-defense. As a convicted felon, Quarry is not
legally permitted to carry weapons.
life for me, among other things, is a battle to retain moral strength, to
remain dedicated to trying to do what’s right. Hence, Quarry. For me, doing the
right thing is not a relative decision; we know
what is right. Sometimes, some of us may choose to do otherwise, but we still know.
Morality is something that can too easily slip away, succumbing to the
never-ending temptation toward moral laziness. It’s about seeing honestly what
lies before us. It’s about constantly renewing self-honesty. Without that, how
can one ever be honest with others?
morality is about having a sense of where you stand on human issues. From a
platform of strength, it’s about offering empathy and mercy to the world around
you, if nothing else then through small, individual acts as opportunities
present themselves to you. It’s about trying to do good. It’s about a never-ending struggle for forgiveness, both
giving and accepting. Above all, it’s about a willingness to try, a protection against giving up. All
of the above thread through plotlines of the series, providing Quarry compass
as he faces his challenges.
Crucial to my
fiction, to my protagonist, Quarry, he cannot be a one-dimensional figment of
my imagination. Otherwise, he could just be another Marvel Universe super-hero.
No, pre-eminently, he must be credible. I’ve got to be able to believe that he can exist, all over the
world and in my neighborhood. Maybe, even in my house.
And in the
end, perhaps ironically, my protagonist succeeds by just doing what he’s
supposed to do – what we’re all supposed to do.