Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Character Creation: Sean P Ryan


Sean Patrick Ryan was my first creation. He was born sometime in 1998. Technically, he was part of a fan fiction I wrote… but back then, I didn’t know that fan fiction was a thing, and what little I knew of was basically “insert self into X TV episode” … which was always boring.

But by the time I was done with the first draft of the White Ops saga, the story looked nothing like the TV show. I had made up more background data and mythology than I had ever gotten out of the show… and that show had a LOT of history and mythology in it.

My premise started fairly simple. In the TV show, a comment was made that that a fixer and gangster who made two appearances in season one had “been taken down.”

That was news to us. We hadn’t heard the name in four years by that time. Who took it down? Why? How?

Enter Sean Patrick Ryan.

I originally designed his physical build on St. Thomas Aquinas—who, depending on who you listened to, was either short and fat, or two meters tall and one wide. It’s hard to tell, considering Aquinas had started all of the fat jokes told about him.

I was young and stupid, and made Sean … I won’t say perfect. He’s not a Mary Sue. He didn’t get beaten up as often as Jim Rockford or Harry Dresden (The latter wasn’t even published yet) but he wasn’t invulnerable. Every time I made him look invulnerable, I came up with some new way to hurt him. This is science fiction, after all, I can always arrange something.

I had him grow up in a monastery so he could be well-educated… maybe over educated. I gave him an eidetic memory so he could make offhand references.

He was a telepath, because why not?

He was Irish, because I was more of a cultural chauvinist back then than I am now.

He was an orphan, because why burden him with parents.

By the time I was done with the first draft, I had written “2,000 pages” and four “books” in fifteen months.

Why the quotes?

My “2,000 pages” were full, 8.5” x 11”, one-inch margins, and single-spaced. Yes, single-spaced. I probably wrote closer to four thousand pages in that time.

By the time I was done, I was a writer, damn it. I had rewired my brain so much that ideas wouldn’t shut up until I wrote them down.

But I knew I could do nothing with fan fiction. It’s trash. Maybe work on it later.

Over 20 years, it’s later.

Unfortunately, Sean Ryan would not leave me alone in the meantime. When I started the novel It Was Only on Stun!, the book would simply not just start until I had a main character… who turned into Sean AP Ryan…

Damn it, Sean!

Okay, fine, it’s one lousy book. Big deal. How much harm can Sean do in one lousy book? Obviously, he had to be different. He ended up a foot shorter, and more athletic, less academic … and much tighter wound. Seriously, much tighter wound.

Then somehow, Sean AP Ryan ended up in A Pius Man. I don’t know why, he just showed up. He wasn’t supposed to be in that book. Then the character who was SUPPOSED to be the lead got killed off, and guess who took over?

Seriously, I can’t get away from him.

Then something else happened offscreen. After Pius, Sean AP Ryan of the 21st century wanted to be a pirate. He was going to steal from terrorists and countries as an alternate revenue stream. Technically, he was a privateer. He was even going to call it the “Impossible Mission Fund,” because all the Ryan’s are smartasses.

So, when I had finished The Pius Trilogy, I went back to White Ops again. Unfortunately, Sean AP Ryan had altered my timeline. The entire timeline. What he was pulling in 2022 was screwing up 2360. In fact, he ended up warping an entire alien culture.

Because of course he did.

Other things had to be rewritten of course. As I grew up and took more physical training, like Krav Maga, I knew that Sean Patrick Ryan of the 2300s needed some sort of martial art. Bar fights are nice, but barroom brawling and size will only go so far. Especially when there are aliens that are bigger, meaner, and stronger.

In this case, I didn’t need to change Sean much. I added something to the Holy Order of Saint Patrick. Now, they ran RennFaire—the intergalactic version. This time, Sean’s memory became useful for picking up martial arts from across the universe.

Sean was not just an orphan left on a doorstep. He had a family reputation. And a family business. And a family fortune.

As with everything else I’ve ever written, it simply spiraled from there.

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