God’s Banker author Chris Malburg stopped by Drunk On Pop to address what makes an amazing hero.
What makes an amazing hero?
By Chris Malburg, author of God’s Banker
There are a number of ingredients that I strive for when creating the heroes used in my books. First, the person must have a solid moral compass. Readers need to trust the hero to do the right thing. However, in the action/adventure genre, the hero cannot be too good. They’re going up against some pretty unsavory types. So they are often somewhat flawed. This allows for a certain redemption—authors call it an epiphany. We want to see the hero grow and change in some significant way.
In God’s Banker Jack Schilling is an amazing hero. My readers have developed a relationship with Schilling over the two books in the Enforcement Division series—Deadly Acceleration and now, God’s Banker. Schilling is consistent throughout and true to the values of patriotism, justice, faith in himself and his teammates as well as his profession. These are core values on which readers can always count.
He is extraordinarily competent, from the training of his early days as a Navy SEAL and later in the SEC’s Enforcement Division. Jackson carries none of the swagger and self-righteousness that some authors give their lead characters, making them something of a walking cliché. Instead he is humble and focused on his people and his objective. In my interviews with those having such a background in real life, every one of them has such qualities. I have had the privilege of spending time with men having Schilling’s background—they are the best of the best. Knowing them is quite an experience. Jackson Schilling is modeled after these extraordinary individuals.
There’s a converse to what makes a great hero. That’s what makes a great villain. After all heroes need villains to go up against. Great villains are tough for me to create. I have no frame of reference for people who would do such awful things as shown in God’s Banker. But I’m a fast learner. What helps me most is to think of how I would react in that situation, then do exactly the opposite and ramp it up to inflict the most pain and misery.
Just as a good hero cannot be all good, neither can a good villain be all bad. That’s certainly the case with Cardinal David Caneman—the villain in God’s Banker. He’s a brilliant financial engineer. He’s a fanatic and a strict Catholic constructionist who will stop at nothing to inflict his ideals on the masses. Through his efforts, Vatican Bank has risen to become one of the world’s most significant financial institutions. Because of him, millions of dollars have been spent on the poor and downtrodden. Problem is, Caneman has a couple hundred billion at his disposal that he is not spending on the poor. He has diverted it to his own dark and less worthy purposes. We find that he is without a moral compass of any sort. Yet now he’s in a position of extraordinary power. The depth of his deception comes out the more readers see how he has colluded with and duped literally every person who has helped him rise to his seat of power in the Vatican Bank.
I’ve crafted Caneman so that readers can see inside him to his point of view and how he rationalizes some of the evil things he does. To me, this is the key to creating both great heroes and villains. Readers need to see inside the person. Their behavior must be consistent with the person they are portrayed to be. Their actions must logically follow from this construction of the person. Anything other than this confuses everyone and creates a less believable character.
About God’s Banker:
Cardinal David Caneman took just three years to engineer his ascension into the CEO’s office of Vatican Bancorp. His cabal of fundamentalist zealots now quickly moves to seize the world’s largest institution. First by publicly assassinating the Pope. Next by replacing him with Caneman. Finally by giving the masses a common, everyday object—unquestionably used by their savior—to rally behind. For centuries, folklore has claimed the sacred item laid in wait sealed within the Church’s lost treasury vault. Caneman races to unearth the vault—if it exists. He has bet everything that he can find the blessed object, surely buried within. He intends using it to sweep the faithful from their ungodly ways and into his personal standards of piety.
The Taliban took just two years to overthrow Kabul. Armed with over a billion faithful worldwide and a $200 billion war chest—and the sacred Broom Of Formia—Cardinal David Caneman figures it will take him just half that time to conscript the hearts and minds first of Europe, then…
Jackson Schilling enjoys his happy, early retirement. He attends minor league ball games near his home in Elkhart, Indiana. He’s an amateur chef. And Jackson Schilling is a hunter. Then the SEC drafts him. Come on, Jack. One last audit. It’s mandatory after an attempt on the Vatican Bank Chairman’s life. But Jackson Schilling is no ordinary auditor. And it was his Commander in Chief who personally ordered him drafted. Schilling exhaustively uncovers Caneman’s deadly purpose. First he must stop a professional assassin from completing his mission against the Pope. Now the hard part—derail a fundamentalist faction led by a brilliant, ruthless [and some would say] saint to over a billion faithful. Jackson Schilling battles a force growing faster and more deadly than the Crusades, the Inquisition or the Taliban ever were. Legitimate governments will surely topple, becoming answerable to one man and his band of strict fundamentalists if Schilling fails.
About The Author:
Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with work spread over 11 popular business books–including How to Fire Your Boss (Berkley) and Surviving the Bond Bear Market (Wiley, March 2011). In his other life, Chris is a CPA/MBA, a former investment banker and now the CEO of Writers Resource Group, Inc., providers of professional financial literary content to corporations (www.WritersResourceGroup.com). That’s the professional side of Chris’ career. The fun side began when UCLA’s Writers’ school taught him to transition from biz-speak to fiction. GOD’S BANKER and the first installment in the Enforcement Division series, DEADLY ACCELERATION, both combine Chris’ natural talent for story telling with his professional command of the high-stakes investment world and what money and power do to some people.
GOD’S BANKER came to fruition from Chris’ hospital bed while recuperating from an athletic injury. As a long-time endurance athlete, Chris is no stranger to the surgeon’scalpal. Over 130,000 words later,GOD’S BANKER was complete. “It just poured out me,” says the author. “I carried my note pad to physical therapy; made plot notes during the hours in the gym doing rehab; even while on my long bicycle rides through the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean where we live. Slowly endurance returned and with it, GOD’S BANKER.”
Chris Malburg lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Marilyn. Their hobby is raising service dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind. As of this writing, they have raised eight Labrador retrievers and have had three make the cut for placement with their disabled partners.
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