Spotlight on the Characters -
the Main Protagonists
Who are your main protagonists?
As with my Wakefield Series, I am comfortable writing for more than one protagonist.
With Disposal, Cyril Claydon is my main character. He’s 49 and a uniformed sergeant with Clacton police on the north Essex coast. He lost his beloved wife, Maureen, to cancer three years earlier (in 1973), at the age of 42. They were unable to have children together. At the beginning of the book, Cyril is contemplating retirement at the end of the year. He enjoys his allotment and the company of Charlie, his elderly Golden Labrador. But would that be enough for him?
Circumstances see him having to work alongside DI John ‘Dick’ Barton who, by his own admission is ‘an obnoxious arrogant tw*t’. Barton is 36, divorced, slightly overweight, smokes, lives in 1 bed flat in central Clacton and has casual relationships with women when he can. He thinks he’s happy with this lifestyle, but is he really?
The inspiration for your protagonists
For Cyril, in some respects I drew on my recollections of my father who would have been older than him but who was also a mechanic in the RAF during the war.
For Dick Barton I suppose, think of Gene Hunt in Life On Mars!
The creation of your protagonists
I wanted to create two characters who would provide a strong contrast. I wanted a man who was ‘old school’, who did things properly and treated others with respect where he could. The second would be someone who didn’t care who he upset and would be a bit of a misogynist and a hedonist. I was also interested to see what the two of them being forced to work together would throw up.
When I create a character, I very quickly need a name to be able to flesh them out. Cyril came to mind as a name typical of that generation. His backstory quickly formed - he joined the RAF in 1942 at 16 and trained as a mechanic in his squadron. He demobbed in 1946 and, after a variety of jobs, joined Essex Police in 1951, aged 25.
For some strange reason, Barton came to mind as a surname for my DI. Christened John, Dick would have been the obvious nickname choice. He needed to be younger than Cyril and he began to take shape as the man described in the answer to the first question.
About your protagonists’ characters
One of my main aims when writing Disposal was to explore the character arcs of both main protagonists, Cyril and ‘Dick’ Barton, as well as their relationship development. I hope that has come across to the reader.
Do they have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!
Cyril has some of my father’s traits. He’s a couple of inches taller but has the same thin moustache my dad had. I also never heard any bad language from my dad, ruddy being a favourite mild swear of that generation.
Barton, on the other hand is an amalgam of various characters I’ve come across over the years.
What do you like most about your protagonists?
I like Cyril because he is a straight forward compassionate man who treats those he has to deal with in a fair and proper manner. Barton, on the other hand, can be cutting and as non-PC as you could get in 1976. He can say and do things others might want to but wouldn’t dare.
What do you dislike about your protagonists?
With Cyril, possibly the fact he smokes a pipe. In Barton’s case, he needs to buy some deodorant, even allowing for the fact he’s having to cope with the long hot summer of 1976!
Would you and your protagonists be friends in ‘real’ life?
I think we would. I think Cyril would be an extremely interesting man to converse with. And Barton would be good company in the pub.
There is a follow-up underway set in the following year, 1977.
David Evans is a Scots-born writer who found his true love as well as his inspiration for his detective series, set primarily in Wakefield. Having written all his life, in 2012 he decided to go for it – successfully as the next year, in 2013, he was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.
The Wakefield Series became an International Bestseller in June 2017 with success in Canada and Australia as well as the UK. But now, whilst the Wakefield Series awaits the next instalment, David Evans has written Disposal, the first in the Tendring Series, a completely new detective series set in north Essex in the 1970s