Friday, September 15, 2017

My Legacy Character, Part 1 of 5 #OurAuthorGang

My Legacy Character  

Part 1 of 5

Joe Bonadonna 

Banner by Erika M. Szabo

Science Fiction and Fantasy author Janet Morris, creator of the Heroes in Hell™ series, of which I'm proud to be one of the contributing writers, once told me that my character of Dorgo the Dowser is my “legacy character.” I knew right away what she meant by that. Anne Rice’s Lestat, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, and Janet’s Tempus the Black, to name a handful, are all legacy characters. These authors are best known and will be remembered for creating these characters.

Now, I make no pretense of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these authors, and while I may never go down in literary history as a famous author, even after I’m dead and buried, Dorgo the Dowser is certainly the most popular of all the characters I have created and written about in the novels, short stories and novellas I have so far published. For many of those who have read not only his adventures but my other stories as well, Dorgo is the character who resonates with most of my readers. I get more compliments about Dorgo than any other character of mine. Men and women relate to him. People like him, and I’m glad about that because Dorgo is me. Inspired by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, I chose to write my stories in the “first person point of view,” something I haven’t seen done that often in heroic fantasy. So Dorgo’s voice is my voice. His personality is my personality. His issues, his philosophy, his wants and needs are all mine. In many respects, Dorgo is the guy I hope I’d be, if I were living in the kind of world in which he lives, “a world of darkness, black magic and creatures of the night . . . a world where life is cheap and souls are always up for sale.”

Dorgo’s first outing, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser is a picaresque novel: six interconnected tales that introduces him to the reading public. He’s a sort of private eye set in the 14th century of my alternate world, Tanyime. This is heroic fantasy and old-school sword and sorcery with a film noir twist. That’s one of the reasons for the subtitle and the retro look of the main title on the book’s cover. All but one of these six tales is written from the first person POV; the other is written in “third person,” because that was the best way for me to tell that tale.

The Dowser is a gumshoe in the old-school tradition of Raymond Chandler’s world-weary, cynical private investigator with a sarcastic sense of humor, Philip Marlowe. Now the reason Dorgo is called the Dowser is because he investigates crimes committed through the use of some form of magic, searching for clues and answers like someone searching for water with a dowsing rod. The other reason for his epithet is that he actually uses a special kind of dowsing rod in his line of work. You see, while working on my stories I discovered that, in the world of metaphysics, there are all kinds of dowsing tools, and each has its own special use. It’s interesting to note that a psychic medium I once dated in the early 1980s told me I had a soul naturally tuned to the metaphysical realm and that my understanding of it was as natural to me as breathing. True or not, that took me quite by surprise, for in those days “metaphysics” was just an exotic word to me, and something I had never looked into. She even told me that dowsing rods are the inspiration for what we call “magic wands.”

But Dorgo’s dowsing rod is not used as a magic wand, (re: Harry Potter), nor can it be used as an offensive weapon. What the Dowser’s divining rod, perfectly hewn into a Y-shape from a single branch of a yew tree, allows him to do is “detect the ectoplasmic residue of any supernatural presence or demonic entity, and sense the vestiges of sorcerous power used in the commission of a crime.” This was the hook — the gimmick I’d hoped might set him and his tales apart from other sword and sorcery stories. But I didn’t come up with the idea of having Dorgo use a dowsing rod until 21 years after his birth.

In Part Two I’ll talk about Dorgo’s “death and resurrection,” and give you a glimpse into his world and the stories that make up the first volume of his “saga” — Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser. Until next time . . . keep on reading, keep on writing, and keep on keeping on. 

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#heroicfantasy  #swordandsorcery  #supernatural  #paranormal #joebonadonna