Do all protagonists have to be GOOD guys?

Protagonist…Good or Bad?
by
Luke Murphy


My very first adult novel was CUJO by
Stephen King (what were my parents thinking? LOL). Like I said, I’ve never been
a horror fan, but King in a genius. That book scared the bejesus out of me, but
it was an exceptional read and it brought me in touch with a side that thrilled
me. Being scared or frightened is an emotion that appealed to my inner being
and I craved more.

They don’t make good horror movies like
they used to, but every now and then I like to watch a horror movie to connect
with my youth. I know, weird, eh?

So my real question is: Do all protagonists
have to be GOOD guys?
We’ve all read books about zombies, ghosts, ghouls and
brutal serial killers as antagonists, but what about protagonists? Is the term “bad
protagonist” an oxymoron?

One of my favorite shows on TV is Dexter.
What would you call him? Is rooting for a serial killer such a bad thing?

That’s what I had in mind when I first sat
down to write my début novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND.

Dead Man’s Hands is a crime-thriller set in
the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. It takes readers inside the head of Calvin
Watters, a sadistic 
6’5”, 220 pound African-American, Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a
murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy. He’s not a man to be taken lightly or a book for the faint of heart.

When thinking about creating the main
character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate
to
. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who
readers could make a real connection with.

Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past
as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas leg-breaker,
I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make
Watters appear scary (dreadlocks, patchy facial hair, body covered in tattoos),
but also able to blend in with those of the social elite.

His every movement is done with precision
and a slowness that dramatizes his actions. As he’s torturing his victims when
collecting debts the atmosphere is built up by where the scene takes place. His
“workshop” has been created to scare his prey. His methods are brutal, and he
has a 100% rate of collection.


Do you think this is someone you could root
for?
You’ll have to read it to find out, but I would bet on it. 
Because my story takes place in Las Vegas,
I wanted the book cover to have an element of gambling, but also show the callousness
of the slayings.

The term DEAD MAN’S HAND originates from
the Wild West. Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in a saloon while playing
poker. The four cards he was holding at the time of his death were: 2 Aces and 2
Eights, and the fifth card was undetermined. Ever since that day, a card hand
consisting of Aces and Eights has been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand”
 – aces and eights and poker chips laid out on a poker
table, with a bloody knife—the weapon of choice for the psychotic killer in the
story.


DEAD MAN’S HAND



What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted
fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las
Vegas
debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police,
finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don’t fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent
casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale
Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the
largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To
redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer,
while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a
professional assassin hired to silence them.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with
his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey
before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports
columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree
(Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was
released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

Other posts by Lee Murphy on WWBB

One author, one marketing plan

 by 
Luke Murphy

My
marketing started with the writing of my book. I always had a plan, an idea of
the plot, but now I had to think about the characters and setting, and I had to
think about my target audience in this stage.

I wanted
characters who readers could relate to. Characters that were real, not
fictional to the point of unbelievable. My protagonist, Calvin Watters, is as
real as they come, with faults and weaknesses like us all. Because of my sports
background, I wanted Calvin to also have an athletic background. I was a pro
hockey player, but I decided that hockey would be fine for a Canadian fan base,
but I wanted to cater worldwide, so I chose football. I believe that more
people follow football than hockey.

For the
setting, I needed a major market in the United States that people would want to
read about, so I chose Sin City, Las Vegas. Everyone is interested in this
fast-paced, party-all-night lifestyle and city that is party-central.

In today’s
society, most people don’t realize that writing a book is more than just
putting a good story down on paper.
I learned this quickly. Agents and
publishers want someone with a “platform”, someone who already has a fan base
and is guaranteed to sell books. It’s risky for a publisher to take a chance on
a new writer, because there is no telling how many books they will sell, no
matter how good that book may be.
In 1999 I
graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Marketing, so
I felt I had a running start at promoting my work.

It took me
two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my
novel.

I’m going
to skip through the writing phase and seeking and agent/publisher, because this
post is about actually marketing my début novel.

Once my
publishing contract was signed, then the real work began, building my
“platform”.
I knew that when I signed on with a smaller publisher that the bulk
of the promotion load would fall on my shoulders, and I accepted that.

I did four
things quickly: created my own website, started a blog, and opened a Facebook
page and Twitter account.

Now, I have
been fortunate to have had many jobs in my life, jobs that have created
interest in not only myself, but what I do.

Here are
some things I did next:
      I
scribed a letter to all of my email contacts (2500) and all of my FB friends
(2500).

      I
scribed a letter for all of the media outlets (radio, TV, print) in the cities
where I played hockey, or have contacts. One of the benefits of playing
professional hockey was that I went through a lot of interviews with
personalities in all forms of media.

       I
picked out the site for my launch party and spoke with the owner about it.

       I
played hockey for teams and leagues all over North America, creating a fan base
in a variety of cities, and also worked in hockey camps, so I already had some
followers that I contacted.

      I
was a reporter on the radio for a couple of years after retiring from hockey,
and my radio reporting was a presence on the web as well as in radio.

      My
sports column (2006-2009), Overtime, which was a main feature in The Pontiac
Equity, not only had a following but helped in writing concise and exciting
prose.

     I
composed a list of local stores for potential book signings.

     I
compiled a list of local stores to sell my book.

Next I picked out my target audience and
searched the web for them:

    –   Thriller readers looking for an atypical thriller hero—an African-American who is no saint.

    –   Sports fans will be fascinated by Watters’ struggle to recover his decency and win, a kind of Blind Side story with little sentimentality and few illusions.

    –   A Las Vegas setting—the world of The Hangover movies and many youth films like Bridesmaids—will appeal to 20s-30s readers.

   –   Watters’ romance with a former prostitute will appeal to younger female readers.The marital tension between Detective Dayton and his wife will interest adults. Both men and women will enjoy the twist on the femme fatale figure of the murderer’s lover, who has her own schemes.

  –      Lovers of history, as the term,
“Dead Man’s Hand”, is a legend dating back to the Wild West of the 1800’s.

I started creating relationships on the
internet through Facebook and Twitter. I met not only authors, but fans of the
genres I write.

When my book was released in October, 2012,
I felt I had a solid foundation to stand on, but I still had a long way to go.

I contacted media for interviews, held book
signings, joined shows and blog toured. I contacted anyone who wrote a blog and
asked about being a guest. I joined Pinterest, Linkedin, and Google +, as well
as sites created to support Indie authors. I did anything I could to get my
name out there, get my book in front of readers.

My publisher set up special promotions
where my book was FREE on Amazon for certain periods of time. All of this was
done to increase my following, and expand the awareness of my book on a
worldwide scale. This will hopefully lead to future sales with not only my
debut novel, but subsequent books if I’ve fortunate enough to write more.

I’ve been happy with the result thus far, but
I don’t have anything to compare it to. I feel that the more books I write, the
more success I will have. The more I get out there, the more excitement and
interest is garnered.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Dead Man’s Hand

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted
fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las
Vegas
debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police,
finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don’t fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent
casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale
Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the
largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgement, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To
redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer,
while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a
professional assassin hired to silence them.
Luke Murphy 

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with
his wife, three daughters and pug.
He played six years of professional hockey
before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports
columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree
(Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s début novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was
released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.