“Do you believe in God?”
“I believe in death. And, every now and then, I believe in monsters.” – “Ruger” McClarnon
Lootah McClarnon, nicknamed “Ruger,” is an older middle aged Lakota-Irish fellow who is a newcomer to the small town my book takes place in. He plays the role of the silent observer. Someone who more describes the events around him, rather than actively participating in them. That was one character idea that stuck with me years after reading The Great Gatsby in high school. And I knew someday I had to try it out for myself.
I created Ruger because I needed someone who serves as little more than a witness to the story. Someone who watches how the dark events surrounding him shape people’s hearts and dig up forgotten graves. He offers his own personal commentary on the influence that fear and prejudice have on friends and enemies alike. But don’t worry, it’s not all terrible. Hopefully some of Ruger’s thoughts on life in the American midwest will offer slight comic relief.
And as you read the book you’ll also come to know that Ruger has a brooding, existential, pessimistic view of the world (see the excerpted quote). Think overdose on Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche. Now wash that down with the cold Norwegian-German Minnesotan culture that keeps strangers at a distance, avoids confrontation, and is in a state of perpetual isolation and loneliness.
Ruger is also an unreliable narrator. And, sadly, there are scenes when I had to write him misgendering and deadnaming a transgender character (don’t worry, before I upload the chapter I will let my readers know when it’s coming, in case some of you may be triggered by that sort of content). I even triggered myself writing those scenes (but what mentally ill artist hasn’t done that?). Truth is, Ruger is not written as someone who understands LGBT+ issues, and he is insensitive to anything he doesn’t understand. He is not the only character like this either. But as much as I try to make that element of small town life realistic, it’s not the main focus of the story. After all, transgender characters deserve so much more than an entire narrative focused on all the bad things that happen to them!
But I digress. Despite these flaws and more, Ruger has really grown on me. He’s the sort of character I could write a whole series about. See what he finds and gets into. There is still a lot I don’t know about him. But I like to keep him full of secrets, even to myself. It makes my time writing him a forever unsolved mystery.
One last thing you might like to keep in mind. Nowhere in the book does it state that Ruger is human.