BEHIND THE CHARACTER:
HERMAN INGRAM

Since my mind is always running at 200 MPH, I decided to start a new feature. Now, it’s nothing particularly unique, but I really like the idea of giving a little background on my characters. That said, where better to start than the titular “hero” of Kill The Messenger, The Hangman’s Soliloquy, and The Devil’s Backyard?

Genesis

Meet Herman Ingram

Sometime around 2014, I had an idea for a story. In the story, an investigative journalist found himself knee-deep in a scandal involving a bank selling mortgages off to the detriment of the homeowners. The story never went anywhere, but the character stuck. I spent a few minutes trying to come up with a name for this would-be hero, and one lodged itself in my brain: Herman Ingram. I can’t tell you why or where it came from, but it happened.

After that story died on the vine, I moved on to a handful of other projects as I worked to find my footing as a writer. In late 2017—when the impetus for my first novel appeared—I knew that Herman was the only choice to serve as protagonist. The idea lent itself to a journalist in the role instead of the typical action hero type. Now that we’ve established the birth of the character, let’s take a look at who Herman is.

The first step in giving an honest assessment of this character is to say that Herman largely serves as an avatar of myself. I’m not a huge fan of self-inserts but, as a budding writer at the time, I opted to start with what I knew in the hopes of creating a genuine character. Perhaps that’s hacky or cliché, I can’t say, but it’s the truth either way. Damnit, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but I don’t have the heart to change it.

Herman is deeply dedicated to his craft. His biggest credit in my eyes is that the truth is his ultimate goal. He isn’t swayed by money, power, threats, political affiliation, or anything else. He has no tolerance for corruption, a trait so overriding that, when told to drop a story, he quit his job at a prestigious paper. He holds his ethics dear, seeing them as his only constant in a world he distrusts, populated by people who are only out for themselves.

Not being a stereotypical action hero, Herman relies on his wit in most situations, either to avoid danger or cope with it. Humor—dark or otherwise—is something he relies on to maintain the frayed threads of his sanity. It seems plausible to me that a person constantly dealing with stories featuring humanity at its worst would need a coping mechanism. For me it’s humor, a “gift” I passed on to Herman.

However, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for old Herman. Thanks to the depravity he’s reported on over the years, he’s incredibly cynical. He can be curt and quick to anger; when his bitterness mixes with his sense of humor, he becomes a world-class smartass. That’s not to paint Herman in a negative light, but to give insight into his personality.

What to Expect

Herman battles many demons, many stemming from his past. His mental health has taken a beating, as evidenced by his actions in The Hangman’s Soliloquy. Despite this, and despite his aforementioned actions, Herman doesn’t quit. When he finds meat on the bone of a story, he gnaws it down to the marrow. He’s a man of his word, no matter how profane some of them are.

Through the series so far, he’s been tested and come out changed. He’s stronger is some ways, more vulnerable in others. He’s relentless and pragmatic; thoughtful but occasionally impulsive. At the end of the day, he’s his own harshest critic but, to many, he’s a beacon of hope, a man not afraid to shine a light into the shadows.

Appearances

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