Holy smoke! I hear Donavon McFadden wants to fire up a pipe with me and the Old Mitt to gain some clarity. Do I dare? What if he doesn’t like the answers? That boy gets pretty intense. I should know. I modeled him after one of the toughest ass kickers I’ve ever known.
Billy Donavon was his name, starting middle linebacker and cocaptain of the Golden Warriors at Andover High, and renowned for dropping guys twice his size, both on and off the football field. He wasn’t the type that started trouble, but he sure knew how to end it. Needless to say, as a sophomore I worshipped the ground he walked on and did everything I could to impress him during the linebacker drills at practice. He must have liked my spirit, because after flattening me, he would often help me up and give me a pointer or two on how to neutralize a charging blocker.
Now, I’m not a mean guy, but I did manage to shell out some pain playing football in high school, thanks in large part to Billy’s hard-hitting tutorage. To this day I still love the sport, though I haven’t played it in decades. Sometimes I wonder how far I could have gone if I were only a bit bigger, stronger, and faster. Just as well, I suppose. Concussions aren’t conducive to novel writing.
But then what is? Something has to fuel the process. What inspires us authors to stare into space for hours on end while we shake off the bumps and bruises in our fictitious worlds? I can’t speak for all novelists, but I’d bet there are a good number of us who … let’s just say, need to get out of ourselves. What better way to do that than by endowing our characters with the qualities of those who have inspired us in life?
That said, I’ve got a few words for Donavon McFadden. Don’t worry about the pow-wow with me and the colonel for now. There’ll be a time and place for the holy smoke. Just trust your instincts and continue doing what you’re doing. Yeah, I made you tough and hot-headed, but you’re also mentally agile, attuned to the nuances of the natural world. It wasn’t by accident that you happened across that orphaned wolf pup, nor was it sadism that inspired me to pit you against Hector Xavier and his band of thugs at the fountain. You’ve got all the right stuff as far as I’m concerned. That’ll come in handy in this next book. Rest assured, I’ll be calling on you and your team of warriors to kick some more ass in Barusta’s Academy.
And to Billy Donavon, wherever you are, whatever joint pains plague you, whatever residual wounds might haunt you from those glorious days with the Golden Warriors, you made the difference for that starry-eyed sophomore you used to peel off the grass at practice. And if you ever happen to read Mitterhal’s Post by R. E. Nelson, know that it is your inspiration that runs through the veins of Donavon McFadden.