Many people have asked me if Heath Barrington, the main character in my book, Death Comes Darkly, is based on me, which I find rather flattering. Of course there is a lot of me in him, but he’s better looking and has a better wardrobe! He’s the type of person I would easily be friends with, and certainly someone I would admire, faults and all. The book is set in 1947, so of course his perspectives are a bit different than mine, but I like to think his character is timeless, that he could easily be my neighbor today. But if he were my neighbor today I’m sure he wouldn’t dress as well, unfortunately, and he would certainly be a bit lost in today’s fast paced ever changing crazy world. I myself have always been a bit of an old soul, almost as if I was born in the wrong decade. So while Heath may be out of place in the year 2016, I think I would feel right at home in 1947.
Heath’s character is not without flaws and self-doubt, and you see in this book that he is at times unsure of himself, jealous, and insecure, just like me.
In the prequel to this book, which has not yet been published, you learn that he was Gay bashed at an early age and that a policeman came to his rescue, which is what led him into police work. This was based on my own experience 23 years ago when I was Gay bashed outside of a Gay bar, and now have a plastic plate in my head as a result. Unlike Heath, my bashing didn’t lead me to a life of police work. In fact, I didn’t even report the bashing to the police as a hate crime. I was too afraid back then, still in the closet, still unsure of repercussions. So instead I told the police I was jumped outside a straight bar, something I still regret. Heath was afraid too; of what his parents would say, of what would happen if anyone found out, internalizing guilt and blaming himself. Thankfully we’ve come a long way since 1947, but sadly there is still a long, long way to go, too.
Another thing Heath and I share is Alan, Heath’s being his new love interest, Alan Keyes, and mine being my Alan of 22 years, the light of my life, my rock, my supporter. It’s funny, but the bar I was Gay bashed outside of 23 years ago was a Gay country bar. After I got out of the hospital and back on my feet I at first thought I’d never go back there. But then I thought, I like two-stepping, I like the music, and my friends are there; why should I let fear keep me from that?
So, after a few months I went back, cautiously, nervously, but I went back. And not too long after, I met Alan there. He came up to me and asked me to waltz to the song “These are a few of my favorite things”, and I said yes, even though I was terrible at waltzing. I remember he gamely moved me about the floor as I stomped on his feet, but he kept coming back for more, so I must have done something right. We’re still together 22 years later and “My favorite things” has become ‘our song’
So yes, in many ways Heath is based on me, my experiences, good and bad, and my beliefs. He is, after all, my creation, and I like to think he’s a better version of me, of what I strive to be. And, perhaps, I’m a version of him.