Genesis of T. J. O'Sullivan
One of the basics of writing a novel is characterization, making the characters seem like real people. A tool many writers use to accomplish that goal is using a character profile for the main characters in the novel. The primary purpose of a character profile is to assist the writer in creating a character that is as lifelike as possible, a person that readers care about enough to learn what happens to them.
In this post, I'm sharing the character profile for T. J. O'Sullivan, the strong female protagonist of my upcoming novel, Mare's Nest, which will be released in April 2018. I'll also give readers a little behind the scenes look at what inspired the creation of T. J. O'Sullivan.
First, the character profile—
Character Profile T. J. O'Sullivan
Full name: T. J. O'Sullivan (What her initials stand for is a bit of a mystery)
Nationality: New Zealander
Hometown: Whangaruru (Northland Region), New Zealand
Race/Ethnicity: White/European descent
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Current Occupation: Private Investigator
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Marital Status: Widow
Languages Spoken: English
Religious Beliefs: Basic Christianity, raised in the Anglican Church, but not particularly religious
- Trained investigator as a result of her previous employment as a constable and detective constable with the New Zealand National Police Force before immigrating to the United States.
- Trained sniper as a result of her past service in the New Zealand Defense Force and assignment to the Armed Offenders Squad (a special weapons and tactics organization) while employed by the New Zealand Police.
- Licensed by the California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services (BSIS) as a private investigator.
- Holds a BSIS exposed firearms permit and a California Concealed Weapons Permit.
- Skilled in Krav Maga, military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces which she learned from an Israeli acquaintance while deployed to the Sanai as part of the NZ contingent of UN Peacekeepers. Krav Maga is derived from a combination of techniques sourced from Boxing, Wrestling, Aikido, Judo, Karate along with realistic fight training focused on real-world situations.
- Athletic skills developed as a Field Hockey and Net Ball player during high school and university.
- University graduate.
Notable Strengths: Intelligent, self-reliant, and self-disciplined.
Notable Weaknesses: Given to impatience and quick-tempered. T. J. often drinks too much and is given to swearing excessively.
Physical Appearance: Tall with an athletic build. Attractive in a tomboyish sort of way.
Height: 183 cm (6 feet)
Weight: 10.3571 Stone (145 pounds)
Hair color: Ginger (shoulder length)
Eye color: Green
Face shape: Oval
Usual attire: Casual
Personality Details: Adventurous, articulate, assertive, ambitious, clever, competitive, courageous, dedicated, disciplined, earthy, educated, fun-loving, honest, observant, out-spoken, sassy, self-reliant, sensual, strong-willed, tough, and uninhibited.
Backstory: A native of New Zealand, T. J. met and married an American employed by the U. S. Department of State who was posted to the U. S. Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand. Later after the marriage, T. J. learned that husband David's employment was actually a cover for his real employment with the CIA. About two years after their marriage, David was transferred from New Zealand to the Office of Foreign Mission in Los Angeles. T. J. immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized U. S. citizen.
David was sent to Afghanistan on a temporary duty assignment as part of a CIA operation. While there he was at a meeting of U.S. diplomats and Afghan government officials at a hotel in Kabul. The Taliban bombed the hotel, and David was killed.
T. J. was introduced in the third Malone Mystery Novel, Cold Comfort. As the owner/operator of a private security firm, she was hired by Ben Malone to assist with a case. Already having an interest in becoming a licensed private investigator, at the conclusion of the case T. J. persuaded Malone to mentor her so that she could obtain the necessary experience to qualify for a private investigator license. After obtaining her own license, T. J. continued working for Malone as an investigator at his agency, Bright Investigations.
In Cold Comfort, T. J. developed a crush on Malone before learning that he was already in a committed relationship. But, even though Malone is unavailable, she hasn't been able to move on from her unrequited feelings for him. He was the first man to excite and hold her interest since her husband, David.
The after-effects of PTSD suffered as a result of two tours T. J. served in the Middle East during her years in the New Zealand military, anger over David's sudden death, and her own frustration at being unable to get over Malone combine to give T. J. a hair-trigger temper. She also tends to drink too much which she tells herself is merely her fun-loving attitude but is actually an exercise of self-medication to help her cope with the traumatic loss of her husband and her inability to find the type of person she desires with whom to build a new happy and fulfilling relationship with.
Known Family: T. J., the eldest child in her family, has a younger brother and sister. Her mother Rose and father George still reside in New Zealand. Her brother Matthew lives in Sydney, Australia, and her sister Luciane in London.
The inspiration for T. J.'s physical traits came primarily from New Zealand actress Siobhan Marshall, although Siobhan is a blonde rather than a redhead. T. J.'s assertiveness, impatience, and sassiness were also inspired in a sense by Marshall. Those personality traits were drawn from a character, Linda Frame, that Marshall played in the New Zealand television drama, "The Blue Rose" (2013).
But, T. J. is a literally a composite character drawn from multiple sources. In addition to Siobhan Marshall's contribution, her other traits and behaviors were drawn from another New Zealand actress I admire as well as from two New Zealand women I actually know and am fortunate enough to be able to call friends. Those friendships, in fact, inspired me to create T. J. as a female Kiwi.
Hope you enjoyed this inside look into my T. J. O'Sullivan character. I'll be providing more character profiles from Mare's Nest each month before the release. Now over to you. As a reader do you enjoy behind the scene looks at a novel character like this one? Or, as an author, do you find character profiles useful in your writing?