Welcome to the next segment of Behind the Characters! Today, I’ll be taking you for a closer look at the complicated role of Derrick.
Big spoilers ahead, so stop here if you haven’t yet read Her Name Was Abby!
Derrick was a surprisingly fun character to write and get to know. The son of the President, he eschews the political life and seeks a path of action. He ends up dating Abby, not knowing that she is set to betray him and everything he stands for.
I actually started with Derrick being more of a bully, a definite ‘bad guy’ and a real chip off the ol’ block. He was to be rude and pushy with Abby, and when she eventually betrays Hiamovi I wanted it to look like it was his fault, that he forced Abby’s hand. I wanted Abby to be blameless.
But as the story carried on, I realized that wasn’t the best path to take. We’ve got plenty of truly bad ‘bad guys’ already, so why not someone who’s not so bad? Instead of Abby delivering justice to a villain, what if she wrongs the people she loves?
That’s when Derrick became a true gentleman. Still a patriotic man of action, but now with a tender, loving side. Now he was good to Abby, he treated her well and made her feel special. And in the end, he even made a part of her fall out of reality and into love with him. In another world, they may have actually been good together. That’s what I wanted to convey, that Abby and Derrick (though living a fake relationship) were actually a good couple.
And this set the stage, I think, for a more intense falling out. Now Abby has not only betrayed Derrick but also Hiamovi by falling for Derrick and eventually sleeping with him. Now even as Derrick fights for the other side, the reader can feel sympathy for him.
That, I thought, delivered the kind of excitement and moral conundrums that His Name Was Zach mostly lacked (a few reviewers had expressed dislike for Abby’s seemingly perfect character in the first book, so I thought a fall from grace was in order). This helped me bring Abby to a truly rock bottom point in her life, which also helped me illustrate a secondary message: when Abby was at her physically strongest and toughest, inwardly she had never been lower or more vulnerable. The point being true strength isn’t being a badass, but doing what is right despite the capability to do what is wrong.
In the end, I let Derrick escape and begin a fresh life. Misguided though he was, he is ultimately a good man, and like Abby I hope that he finds a place and a family that makes him happy. After the tough life he’s lived so far, losing both parents and the love of his life, he deserves that.