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Antihero as Protagonist

Today's post features a guest appearance by Luke Murphy, author of Dead Man's Hand. He explains how to make an antihero your protagonist by providing him with solid motivation. Luke Murphy describes his protagonist, Calvin Watters:

The four most common character conflicts in stories are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, and man vs. himself. 

The single most common character conflict in suspense/mystery novels is man vs. man. This is usually seen through serial killers, murder investigations, assassination plots, etc. One character is battling against another character in the story. 

There's plenty of this in DEAD MAN`S HAND, but I also wanted to add another element to entertain readers. 

The central theme of DMH is the plot built around framing Calvin Watters for murder. Calvin spends the story evading the cops, as well as a hitman, while trying to solve the crime and prove his innocence. (Man vs. Man, right?) 

But I truly believe that the major character conflict in my story is Calvin vs. himself. 

Calvin Watters was on his way to NFL stardom when a sudden, selfish decision destroyed any dream he ever had. He remembered when the rich had welcomed him into their group as a promising, clean-cut athlete bound for glory. Now he was just an outsider looking in. Just another thug. 

Pain bolted through his right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. He was the only one to blame for USC's humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall. 

The press, always ready to tear down a hero, had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media. 

Looking at him now, no one would believe that back then he was a thousand-yard rusher in the NCAA and welcomed with open arms in every established club in Southern California. Hell, he had been bigger than the mayor. 

That the resulting injury had ended his college football career and most importantly, any chances of a pro career didn’t matter to anyone. By making the wrong, selfish, prideful decision, he’d made himself a target for the press and all USC fans. 

The devastating, career-ending knee injury wasn't the quarterback's fault for missing the audible, or the fullback's fault for missing the key block. It was his and it had taken him some time to understand and accept responsibility for it. 

After he spent three years building a reputation as the toughest collector in Vegas, no one even knew he'd been one of the greatest college running backs ever. To them, he was just “The Collector.” 

Now Calvin has to rebuild his life and his future, eliminating the thoughts of his downfall, picking himself up, dusting off, and trying to live a respectable life he can be proud of. 

But has his time as a leg-breaker made him corrupt beyond redemption?

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two 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.

DEAD MAN'S HAND "A fast, gritty ride."

For more information on Luke and his books, visit:

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