I enjoy torturing my characters. I get a kick out of making them face impossible challenges, battle sinuous evil, and survive harrowing events that threaten to rip away everything important to them.
Which is why I force many of them to have day jobs.
Admit it, didn’t I just describe your average day at the office? From what I’ve observed, sinuous evil takes many forms: Bag lunches disappearing from the communal fridge; photocopiers that jam just when you’ve got a hundred reports to produce; brown-nosing co-workers who always manage to snag the free tickets to the baseball game. Not that I’m pointing fingers.
As Jessa mentioned yesterday, being an immortal demon slayer has a save-the-universe urgency that can’t be contained to pre- and post-work hours. But the world of Drawn into Darkness is a lot like the world we live in, and people are all too eager to tell the tabloids about that weird guy who lives next door. Thus, even immortals need to LOOK normal.
Some of my characters stick to standard job fare, like my heroine Rachel in Drawn into Darkness, who works a 9 to 5 job (Ha! I really mean 8 to 6 with homework) at a local high tech firm. She has a boss who—as Rachel puts it—“stalked the halls like a lion, pouncing on the slightest pause in activity”. Rachel’s job causes her a lot of extra conflict when she’s forced to take on a powerful demon to save her daughter. Let’s face it, even after the demon’s dead, you still need to pay the rent. Poor Rachel, tortured by her author.
Other characters, especially the ones who used to have jobs as sword-wielding knights, have fake jobs, just for appearances. Lachlan MacGregor, the hero of Drawn into Darkness, disguises himself as a priest. He’s got a couple of reasons why he chose that profession, but dressing the way he does certainly simplifies his explanations when he’s caught hovering around a dead body. Which, as a Soul Gatherer, is a daily risk.
Brian Webster, the male lead from the second Soul Gatherer book, Bound by Darkness, used to be a stockbroker (back when he was alive). Now, he uses his investment skills to keep himself in designer suits. Conveniently, investing is not a job that requires regular office hours, so he can pause to battle evil whenever and where ever it pops up.
The heroine in Bound is a thief. Lena steals ancient artifacts and sells them on the black market. She’s got her reasons, which I won’t reveal here. Problem is, being a thief isn’t a job you take on to ‘fit in’. In fact, she doesn’t mention her little hobby to her neighbors—the business card she hands around at block parties labels her an antiquities dealer.
Personally, I love imagining people’s alter-egos. Got anyone at work who you’re certain moonlights as a vampire? Can you imagine the woman in the next cubby with a lab in her basement worthy of Dr. Horrible? A mild-mannered co-worker who might be save the world in his spare time? No need to name names. Just tell us what you think their secret persona is…good or evil.