meet Adrian Fallon, who does not suck as a friend

Hi, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying getting to know the characters of my novel Sam’s Town, which is getting so close to being released. I saw a mock-up of the cover last week, and it looks awesome. I can’t wait for you all to see it.

Today, I’d like you to meet Sam’s best friend, Adrian Fallon. At one time, Adrian was basically a second protagonist. I had been written stories about Sam and Adrian for a few years before I decided to throw them into the zombie apocalypse and make a whole novel out of their adventures. Eventually, Sam came to be the main character, but Adrian still has some crucial point-of-view scenes, and I would argue that his friendship with Sam is the central relationship of the novel, even more so than the romantic connection, which I’ll talk about next week. Adrian and Sam have known each other for fourteen years–since their sophomore year of college. They’ve been through hard times together, eaten many pizzas, had many convoluted all-night conversations on various finer points of geekdom, and watched Night of the Living Dead too many times to count. Their personalities contrast, but they share some crucial hopes and fears, and they understand each other better than nearly anyone else in the world. They look out for each other, like brothers.

I mentioned last week that Adrian is more like me than any of my other characters (though Ramona, whom you’ll meet next week, is a close second). Like me, Adrian is a tense person who gets easily frustrated when he himself, other people, and the world don’t meet his high standards. (As you can imagine, the zombie apocalypse poses a problem for him.) Adrian worries–among other worries–that he isn’t the good friend that Sam needs and deserves, but he’s wrong about that. He’s empathetic and fiercely loyal, and if he says something hurtful in his irrational anger, as occasionally happens, he won’t rest until he’s apologized and done all he can to restore the relationship. All of these, I think, are qualities that Adrian and I share.

Here are a couple of fun facts about Adrian:

  • Speaking of things we have in common: Probably my worst physical habit is picking at my cuticles–especially those of my thumbs–when I’m nervous, sometimes to the point of making them bleed. I gave this habit to Adrian as well.
  • Adrian is from Boston, and I wanted to make him Irish-American but not to hit readers over the head with this. So I added a couple of subtle hints, one of which is that his mother, Eileen, used to make and sell “Celtic” clothing and accessories. I also gave him the last name Fallon, which is Irish but not to the point of caricature…
  • …and is also the last name of a musician whose work I enjoy, Brian Fallon, formerly of The Gaslight Anthem. Like Adrian, Brian Fallon has always seemed to me like a deep thinker and a frustrated person who wants to do what’s right. And Adrian is a musician too, a former high school music teacher who can pick up and play nearly any instrument, and who ends up using a broken guitar as a zombie-slaying weapon.

Here’s a scene about Adrian being frustrated:

It was thirty minutes since Adrian had left the restaurant. He knew this because he always wore a watch. He sat down on the edge of the mine nearest to the town and felt the blood and adrenaline coursing through his body.

The Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine was nearly three miles long. Most of the zombies had been contained at the opposite end, but one had strayed down to this end—or, more likely, had fallen in from above, and was clawing uselessly at the steep, smooth wall of the pit. It hissed monotonously. Adrian concentrated all his anger on the zombie. He wanted to throw a rock at this idiotic creature that was too stupid to give up. He looked around in the moonlight for a rock he could throw. Although he was sitting on the edge of an enormous quarry, he didn’t see any rocks, which made him angrier.

Adrian lay on his back and looked at the pale, round, mild, stupid face of the moon. He put his forearm over his eyes to block the light. He tried to take deep breaths, but his lungs felt like somebody’s knees were pushing down on them. With a strangled cry, he scrambled to his feet and looked around. Nobody was there, of course. Adrian started running toward the far end of the mine.

Okay, so be honest (even though Adrian is like me, he isn’t, actually, me)–do you like Adrian? Do you think you’d want a guy like him around during the zombie apocalypse?

Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll meet the woman who loves the man that the novel is named after.

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