I fall in love with all my characters–even the villains. But some have a special place in my heart. Brute is one of those.
He was created a bit by accident. I’d begun with the idea of a blind prisoner who dreamed people’s deaths. Then I began to imagine what sort of man might serve as that prisoner’s guard. He’d be big and brutish, very much in accord with the stereotype of a guard. But I realized that was only the shell. Inside, he’d be gentle and kind, but lonely and low in self-esteem.
A lot of my inspiration came from my thoughts on stereotypes and our tendency to pass judgment about people simply because of the way they look. But how much do looks really tell us? (For a humorous take on this idea, see the “Prof or Hobo?” quiz.) And not only do these judgments affect how other people perceive us, but they can even cloud our own views of ourselves. Sociologists and psychologists acknowledge this when they talk about labeling theory.
So I wanted a character who looked big and stupid and scary, but was in reality sweet and a little childlike, and who desperately wanted someone to be his friend, to love him. So Brute was born.
I didn’t think about this consciously at the time, but probably Brute was influenced a little by one of my favorite giants, Fezzik from The Princess Bride. And maybe he was influenced by my favorite breed of dogs–Saint Bernards. Saints look big and tough but mine were the gentlest babies you could ever hope to meet. But Brute has a lot of quirks that are purely his own.
Maybe my love for Brute came through in the writing, because I think he’s a reader favorite too. And that makes me happy, because he deserves a lot of love.
Next week: futons