Meet Ryan Knight

the villain who almost made my proofreader quit
© Can Stock Photo/ curaphotography

Creating despicable villains is a lot of fun. It’s one my favorite parts of novel writing. These villains do all kinds of outrageous things, making them the characters readers love to hate. However, there are times when it can be too much fun. Take Ryan Knight, from my contemporary romance novel,  The Reunion. Ryan’s appearance in the story is brief. He’s only seen in the flashback chapters. His actions, however, made an impact.

Ryan is a college student who’s about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for two years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan has been putting in a lot of overtime. He says he’s working late on class projects, but Gillian has her doubts.

A few days after his graduation, Ryan asks Gillian to stop by his apartment. He says he has news he wants to share with her. Gillian believes he’s about to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal will be the last thing she expects.

How my team reacted to Ryan

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” Yes, he certainly was. Her remarks confirmed that I had done my job well. Unfortunately, I may have done my job too well, because I thought my proofreader would quit. Ryan had made her truly angry. She told me the story of how she spent a Sunday morning in her apartment complex laundry room, going over the manuscript as she waited for her clothes to wash. As luck would have it, she was proofing one of the Ryan chapters, and he made her so angry that she started cussing in out. In the laundry room. If front of her neighbors, who had no idea what she was raving about.

From this point on I had to keep reassuring her that Ryan only appeared four chapters. That was it. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

Three real-life men were the inspiration for Ryan. My ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. None were known for their virtue.

I loved working with Delores. While she may have hated Ryan, she gave me good insight for other parts of my story. She was the office manager at the repair shop where I got my car serviced, but by the time I started working on my next contemporary romance novel she had moved on, and, unfortunately,  my only contact info was her work email address. 

Marina Martindale

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