The first is Justin March, who's not really a kid. Fun fact: when I conceived this story years ago, his name was Justin Drew. Justin, however, is a doctor of the academic sort, and Dr. Drew is a no-go these days. So he got a name makeover in homage to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Justin in no way resembles the moral March girls, though. He doesn't even resemble Laurie on a bad day. But we'll get to his vices in a minute.
Remember when I said religion was strictly regulated in the RUNA? The people who do this are called servitors, from servitor veritatis, which is Latin for "servant of the truth." In trying to stamp out separatism, the RUNA has tried to adopt a loosely Greco-Roman cultural style, so they like Latin phrases. I like Latin phrases because it makes me feel like my college days didn't go to waste. These servitors do regular inspections of religious groups and determine whether they're dangerous or can be licensed to worship. A lot of the job is paperwork, but if they find a particularly crazed cult, servitors can call in military backing to disband them.
Justin is a servitor. Or, well, he was. As the book opens, we find he's been both fired and exiled for reasons unknown to us. So, Justin passes his time in the provinces with women, drugs, and alcohol. Actually, this is how he passed a lot of his time back when he was in the RUNA, but it's a little worse now since he's miserable living in what he considers an uncivilized place. Part of what we'll discover about Justin is that he's smart. Really smart. Smarter than me, which makes him hard to write. He observes everything, and his brain is always in overdrive, which is why he indulges in so many substances: he wants a break from thinking sometimes. His cunning is what got him out of humble beginnings and up to a government position and affluent part of society. As for going through women, this comes from the fact that he's a handsome devil with commitment issues. Also, he likes solving puzzles, and each new conquest is a puzzle to crack. He knows how to work his charm, and his ability to read people keeps him busy with female company and is what made him so good at busting cults when he was a servitor.
If you hear me talking about a hard-drinking, womanizing character, it's probably easy to think, "Oh, Adrian 2.0." Not so. First, Adrian doesn't abuse stuff nearly this bad. Second, Adrian is young, and a lot of his vices are ways of coping as he figures out his place in the world. He's still learning who he is. Justin, at thirty-five, knows who he is. He's established his life and found a way to fit in these bad behaviors while still functioning as a productive member of society. I think this is a dangerous thing. We have a tendency to think, "Well, if he still gets up for work and pays the bills, I guess it's okay that he does these things." It's really not. All it does is rationalize addictions, which always eventually come back with a cost.
Writing a character with so many vices is difficult. I want him to be flawed, but at the same time, I need my readers to like him and root for him. So I always have to keep his behaviors in check, lest people get too turned off. So, don't worry. No character is two-dimensionally bad. Justin, despite being seemingly selfish, has a fierce loyalty to his loved ones, particularly the sister he left behind when he was exiled. He also has a soft spot for hard-luck cases, as we'll see in my third character post.
The final thing you should know about Justin is that he has two wise-cracking invisible ravens that talk to him inside his head. Why? Come on, guys, I can't tell you everything. I'm just giving you background here, not the book's plot! :)
More characters to come!