This post is spoiler-free.
When I first started writing the book, I had less than a handful of characters in mind, so others appeared dynamically as the story unfolded.
However, I knew that I wanted the main character to be an extension of my imagined self, as a president of some far flung South American republic, probably with some traits that I have personally aspired to and some that I actually possess. As the story progressed, he seemed to grow into the part, but he was becoming a little one dimensional, so I had to remedy that, by giving him a more emotion and presence later in the story. The tale revolves around him, whether e likes it or not and therein lies the plot.
My secondary character is based upon someone I knew many years ago, so she was a little easier to build into the story.
Even now I can vividly recall details about her, such as how she dressed, her smile when we would chat and a steely toughness simmering just below the surface.
The main character’s sidekick is a pastiche of numerous personalities I’ve encountered through the years. His name is a combination of unusual names I’ve encountered on giant roadside advertising hoardings that I’ve passed on long, deserted roads during my many motorcycle trips around Argentina, such as – “Vote for…” – insert Spanish name here.
His role in the story cried out for a strong undertone to his personality and background, so I got to work on him, trying to bring out the very best and worst of his many traits.
Our other protagonist, with whom the main character has an almost master and servant relationship, is drawn from many military personalities I’ve met at cocktail parties, embassy functions and military bases. Very much of the old school, British Empire style, he has a blinkered view of the world which, for the conspiratorial aspect of the story, was essential. At times likeable, but most of the time, a rather dangerous personality.
Two of my favourite characters appear on the scene about half way through the story and, being two determined, yet vulnerable women, were immensely enjoyable to bring to life. So much so in fact, that I would like to have met them both, possibly in a quiet, English country pub or a busy cafeteria in Buenos Aires.
I’m sure that we would have spent most of the time laughing, delving into conspiracy theories and questioning injustices. I also have a very clear image in my mind about their looks, they way they would dress and their mannerisms, some of which belong to women I’ve met, would like to meet, or that I’ve seen in numerous journalistic television reports.
Finally, the thoroughly dislikeable female character who appears about a third the way through the story and suffers rather unpleasantly, is based on a very real personality known to millions in Argentina. Without giving away the story, some might say that revenge is a dish best served cold.