I promised you Hutch would return to the spotlight! His creator, Robert Liparulo, has gone to great effort in this spotlight to give us an insight into his character and his inspiration for the books, Deadfall and Deadlock. I hope you appreciate his efforts as much as I do!
Over to you, Bob:~
Brief physical description of your main character
When we first meet Hutch in Deadfall, he’s thirty-eight, which makes him thirty-nine in Deadlock. The one place he releases the tension that’s normally directed at investigating Deadlock’s bad guy is the gym, so he’s physically fit, but not a body builder. His hair’s getting a little thinner, while—to paraphrase Aerosmith—the lines on his face keep getting clearer. Still, women find him attractive. He’s six feet, and since he’s a bow hunter, he carries himself gracefully. He doesn’t think much about his wardrobe. He prefers comfortable to fashionable.
I tend to create the physical appearance of my characters out of various people I’ve known or seen: maybe they eyes of this person, the physique of that one. I’d say the actor that most closely resembles the Hutch who’s in my mind is Gerald Butler, from 300 and P.S. I Love You. I got a chance to meet him once, and I saw in him a gentleness, a mild-mannerness that reminded me of Hutch—at least when Hutch isn’t raging at injustice or shooting arrows at his enemies. And yet, with Butler, here was a guy who’s fit enough that no one would mistake his timidity for weakness. He also carried himself with confidence and looked you in the eyes. He seemed to have a directness and transparency that Hutch shares. I’d love to see him play Hutch someday.
Rel:~ I think there are a lot of us who would enjoy seeing Gerald playing Hutch ~ LOL!!
Strengths and weaknesses
Two qualities define Hutch more than any other. The first is integrity. He doesn’t believe in moral ambiguity, and he’s willing to take a stand for what’s right. He would have been that guy in school who could have hung out with the cool kids, but he wouldn’t because they’re jerks. He would have defended other kids against bullies, which is essentially what he’s does in Deadlock. He’s after a guy—Brendan Page—who’s hurting other people by the thousands for personal gain. It’s not right, and Hutch is obsessed about bring Page down.
The second quality is love for family and friends. He’s divorced, but it was his wife’s affair that lead to it. In Deadfall, he’s just plain angry about it; in Deadlock, he’s beginning to assume some of the responsibility for the break-up, recognizing that his workaholism couldn’t have been easy on his wife. He lives and breathes for his kids—Logan, 12, and Macie, 8. Or at least he thought he did: When we meet him in Deadlock, he’s more focused on exposing Page’s atrocities than he is loving on his children. The story really is as much about his struggle to balance life and work as it is the clash of these two men who want nothing more than to be rid of the other. His love for Logan, who Page kidnaps, is what keeps Hutch fighting long after he should have been down for the count. I don’t think anything else would have motivated him as much.
Two advantages Hutch has in fighting Page and his private soldiers is proficiency with a bow and arrow and a near-MacGyver-like ability to improvise the things he needs out of what’s available around him. One of the things I wanted to explore in Deadfall is the modern concept that high-tech means “better”: the person with the high-tech weapon (in Deadfall ’s case, a satellite laser weapon) will always beat someone with a “lesser” weapon. I wanted know where qualities like integrity, wits, and willpower fit into that equation. Could they invert the balance of power? Deadlock continues this study, but this time, Hutch faces skilled soldiers equipped with high-tech personal weapon systems. I’d say the odds are about even.
Hutch’s major weakness is that his determination to get Page has turned into an obsession. Even Page sees it: “’You’re obsessed,’ Page said. ‘I know what it looks like. I know what it feels like. There’s a simplicity to obsession that frees you from other responsibilities. Most people don’t understand that. They don’t realize that laser-focus means everything else is out-of-focus, unimportant.’” For Hutch, what’s become out-of-focus are his kids. He’s lost touch with them. He knows it, but he doesn’t know how to fix it.
Hutch’s quirkiness comes in the form of his love for archery. He shoots a recurve bow (which is really just shaped wood and string), instead of the more popular compound bow (with pullies that ease the strength needed to pull the string back), because it’s “purer.” In Deadfall, he makes a bow out of a sapling. He knows that the Song Dynasty’s Zhou Tong is considered the best archer in history, and that the real-life archer Howard Hill could hit a coin flipped into the air. I like archery, but Hutch has me beat hands down.
Your inspiration for the character
Deadfall started as a character study, as opposed to a plot I wanted to develop. That may be why a lot of reviewers have said it has more character development that most thrillers do. It all started with thinking about my best friend since high school, Mark Nelson. He’s a game warden in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And an avid bow hunter. This is a guy who could be dropped anywhere in the world with nothing, and he’d survive. At the same time, he’s a great guy. Friendly, smart, very honest. I wondered, “What would Mark do if he were in some isolated place and found himself facing a really bad guy, someone bent on death and destruction?” I guess it’s the kind of question only thriller writers dream up. But it intrigued me, so the story sprung from that scenario. Mark was great, he answered questions about bow hunting, the area in Canada where the story’s set (I’d been there only once, but he’d camped there many times), and what he would actually do in certain situations. In many ways, Mark is Hutch. That must make me one of Hutch’s friends—I hope not one who gets blown up.
Background to the story
In September, 2007, word hit the news about Blackwater guards in Baghdad firing on civilians in Nisoor Square, killing seventeen. One of the pictures showed a guard afterward leaning casually against a Humvee, one leg cocked, picking his teeth with a toothpick, totally unaffected. I thought, “What could make people so indifferent to human life?” That got me thinking about Blackwater-type companies, which claim to have the best soldiers (they call them “guards”) in the world. In a war zone, the best must mean better than normal soldiers at defending—and killing. What could a company do to make people good killers?
In my novels, I tend to take current technology or public opinion and extended it out a few years: What would this look like a few years down the road if we keep going in this direction? After researching private military companies, I decided to describe a situation in which young people are recruited through online war games. The company in Deadlock, called Outis, monitors which gamers show a penchant for killing and strategy. The company recruits these players, desensitizes them to violence, and—this is the cool and scary part, really—manipulates what they see through their facemasks: Since it’s proven that soldiers are more likely to kill men-over-women, adults-over-children, the-armed-over-the-unarmed, foreigners-over-people-who-
In Deadlock, this near-future of bloodthirsty privatized armies is woven through Hutch’s personal story: As a journalist, he’s trying to figure out how Outis makes such effective fighting men. His investigation uncovers a chilling fact: Outis’s founder (Page) is a warmonger who enjoys “the stench of battle” almost as much as he loves building a private military empire. He’s using a special squad of these brainwashed, manipulated young soldiers to carry out his own agenda on American soil. When Hutch confronts him, Page’s private hit squad goes after Hutch and his family, with devastating consequences. It’s up to Hutch—a lone man whose only weapon against a high-tech killing force is a bow and arrow—to set things right and expose the truth.
Really fabulous, Bob! Thank you for taking the time and effort to put this together when you have been under so many deadlines :)
I have a hardcover copy of Deadlock to give away to one of my Australian readers! To enter, post a comment on or before Sunday 12th July, 2009 and be sure to leave contact details. If it isn't your cup of tea, think of the men in your life who would love to get their hands on this book!