(SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t Read Threads That Bind, be warned that this post will contain information about events that happened in the book.)
Aside from Madison, Eric was the character I had the most fun writing. I have heard authors talk about how a character just seemed to take over their book and do things they didn’t want them to do. I always thought that was a bit strange. As a writer you make up the character. You give them their personality and tell them what to do. But as I wrote Eric, I started to understand what they meant.
No matter how well you outline, as you write the book, you continue to clarify in your own mind who your characters are. This is great, as long as your plot outline fits with the character’s personality. I knew Eric was going to be loud and would always be the center of attention as I started the book. What I didn’t realize was just how over-the-top that personality would become. If Eric is going to do something, he won’t do it halfway. If anything, he is going to push the boundaries just because he can – and think it’s fun. When he agreed to replace Madison’s car, he didn’t buy another Jetta – he bought a Mercedes. To get back at Ginger for Madison he hired a professional comedian to heckle her. Eric just seems to be missing that sense of proportion in his responses and takes everything to the extreme.
As I wrote Eric and got a sense for who he was, I had to change my book to keep his actions authentic. I can’t give away too much without giving spoilers for the next book, but Eric really did begin to take over the book. He started showing up in scenes where I didn’t have him, because that is what his character would do. And in scenes where I did have him, Eric would dominate and not let anyone else have the spotlight.
When it came time for Eric to tell Madison his back story, it also grew out of proportion. I already knew he had stayed with his wife Sophie and grew old with her. Eric is fiercely loyal, so of course his character would find a way to stay with her. (By the way, not many Berserkers have this problem because they are generally in their early teens when they find out they are a Berserker and have yet to marry.) But I didn’t know Eric’s military background and all the people he had accidentally killed until I wrote that scene. As I wrote that part suddenly my view of Eric changed, and just as Madison now saw Eric in a new light, I did too. It completely changed how I viewed Eric, and not only kept him the center of attention, it also made him a more tragic figure. Now I saw his over-the-top behavior for the defense mechanism that it was. And more importantly, Madison saw through it to the real Eric below. As sensitive and kind as Madison is, it would be impossible for her to hear that story and not be moved and feel compassion for Eric. Yes, he is more flamboyant than she feels comfortable with, but now she understands why.
Having gone through the pain of staying with Sophie while she grew old and died, Eric knew he couldn’t go through that suffering again. He put up barriers to ensure that he never grew close enough to any woman to want to stay with her. He knew firsthand the heartache involved. But when he found Madison and realized that she would likely live as long as he did, he allowed himself to hope for a more lasting relationship. And, of course, if Eric is going to pursue a girl, he is going to go all out.
Slight spoiler for Unbound – Eric’s feelings for Madison are going to play a large role in some critical events and will radically change the Berserkers’ world.