When I was 12 or 13 years old, back in mumble-mumble, I wrote my first novel. A gruesome science fiction mishmash of Battlestar Galactica, the German pulp series Perry Rhodan and some Young Adult ideas I had kicking around my brain. In the story, thousands of kids were abducted by aliens and trained to serve on their battleships. (Don’t worry, I used memory dumps so I didn’t have to bother with any real emotions or hard sci-fi terminology. 😉 ) Of course, the kids stole a huge ship and started searching for home. As I recall, something like two hundred plus pages I wrote on a journey typewriter, and it actually still exists. (As does the sequel. I think I even finished that one.)
The hero of that story was named Kyle Matthews. As befits my age back then, he was a clear, idealized stand-in for myself, a Barry Lou, if you will (as the male version of the Mary Sue of ill legend). While the character didn’t have depth, the name stuck with me.
Fast forward about fifteen years, to 2001. By that time, I’d fallen in love with wrestling on television (thanks to bad influence from a friend). I was fascinated with the backstage world, bought books, and the idea of a wrestling detective (*) started percolating inside me. But I didn’t want an active wrestler, much less a super-successful one. Instead, the protagonist should be a police detective who once tried to be a wrestler but eventually gave up. He’d had a gimmick in the 1990s – something silly, something that would fit the period (or perhaps rather the 1980s), and that was a shark persona. The Sharkster was born.
Of course, there was a little more to it. Around the same time, I hit upon the highly original realization that shark rhymed with Marc, my name. Hence, Marc the Shark pestered some message boards of the time. That fed into the Sharkster gimmick for my wrestling detective. And that led me back to good ol’ Kyle Matthews. He’d been my Barry Lou back in the day, and the shark bit was associated with my name. And so, the new and improved Kyle got back into the ring – somewhat disillusioned with the world because his dreams had fallen apart, cynical and snarky, not entirely the best friend you could have but he did try. This Kyle was a far cry from the original incarnation.
Perhaps I should have tried a bit harder to try to get the book published. Ah, well, this time around, I’ll send the Sharkster into the ocean (of crime) myself.
And now, nearly twenty years after I wrote Kyle’s original outing – The Squared Circle Murders -, he’s back yet again. While I’m currently struggling with the plotting of the second book (working title Cold Case), I feel like the character is with me again. Snarky, annoying and a joy to be far away from. 😉 This one probably still has a few similarities with myself, yet he feels like a person to me. More so than Kyle 1.0 whom I’ve mostly forgotten about, to be honest.
(*) Interestingly, a couple of months after I began working on the manuscript for The Squared Circle Murders, I came across an interview with a wrestling superstar of the day, Triple-H (now a Vice President at WWE), who said he wanted to create a tv show about a “wrestling detective.” Hrmph! Stealing my ideas without even knowing me! 😉 Anyway, that got me to thinking about dreamcasting Kyle Matthews. I didn’t zero in on Triple-H, though, but rather on another superstar of the day, Batista. Mind you, at that time, he was “just” a wrestler, and the most cinematic work I remember was his take on the “You lookin’ at me?” scene from Taxi Driver in a vignette. Nonetheless, I had a feeling he might be good at this acting deal. Uhm, yeah. Of course, Dave Bautista of Guardians of the Galaxy and other films has turned out to be rather decent at this acting bit…