Writing Cyril Landry: it’s complicated

J. Carson Black @ jcarsonblack.com

I have many male friends who write female main characters, and female writer friends who write male characters. Maybe it’s liberating, or maybe, for some reason, the character is the person you feel closest to. There’s chemistry there. You want to spend your time writing about someone who inspires you, because you have to spend a whole book with that person. Male or female. For my part, I love looking out through Cyril Landry’s eyes and seeing what he is seeing. And he’s kind enough to oblige me.

Cyril Landry fought in two wars. What he did with Whitbread Associates wasn't all that different.

Cyril Landry fought in two wars. What he did with Whitbread Associates wasn’t all that different.

I don’t think men and women are all that much different from one another. In my view, they have a lot more in common than not.

Cyril Landry has been through a lot. He’s fought in two wars. He worked as an operative for a not-very-nice organization called Whitbread Associates. At times in his life, hardened by war and needing to make a living for his family, he considered morals to be niceties. What he did for Whitbread Associates was not so different from what he did for the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No apologies.

I met him on the first page of my thriller, THE SHOP. He was a faceless operative—basically a spear carrier on the set—but on the first page he changed all that. On a mission to kill some people in Aspen, he corrected another operator’s grammar. The first words out of his mouth.

The operator radios in. “There are two people laying on the bed.”
Landry says: “Lying.”
“What?”
“Lying on the bed. Not laying.”

From there he took over more and more of the book. I know he’s done bad things, things I can’t wrap my head around. But I still like him. I’m still fascinated by him. It’s a dichotomy I believe happens in real life. Can you be a good and moral man and still kill?

Considering all the crime fiction, thrillers, spy thrillers, and mysteries, the answer is:

It’s complicated.