Category: Characters

Meet the Remaining Ones: Professor Spencer

Character Profile

(Spoiler Alert: So, I cheated a bit and omitted his name, but there are some spoilers for Book 2, so watch out. If you don’t want to know if the Professor is telling the truth or not, don’t read this profile!)

Professor Spencer  - Those Who Remain

NameProfessor A. Spencer

Age: 52

Birthday: January 15th.

Appearance:  Tall, incredibly bald and with a bit of a beer gut.  He has a long nose, thin mouth and sharp face. He enjoys suits, neckties and fine shoes, using only the best even if it drains his bank account. Very picky about color and texture, Spencer cares a lot about his appearance.

Personality: Professor Spencer is a very intellectual man, focused on teaching and studying biology, virology and social studies. Even when younger, he enjoyed intellectual debates over beer inside smoky pubs with his equally pretentious mates. However, this doesn’t mean he hasn’t a crass side: fighting in the street while drunk was often the end of such nights.

Cunning, not above lying and ambitious, not many would think he cared for the good of Humanity, but he does. He feels very accomplished and happy by surrounding himself with students, teaching and discussing ideas about society and human behavior compared to how viruses behave. He has compassion for the little guy, the one that works very hard to learn something and dedicate all his time to get better. Unlike his brother, Spencer believes society is more good than bad, and can rise above pettiness if given hope. This is all during civilized times, of course. When push comes to shove, Spencer is willing to do what it takes to survive, especially if his survival is important to the greater of good (which of course it is!).

Background: A Londoner all his life, Spencer shared his youth with his brother. They would do everything together — bad or good. One year apart only, they shared ideas, dreams and challenged each other to do stupid, reckless things in order to gain a deeper meaning of life. Both extremely intelligent, they were arrogant and thought themselves better than 80% of the world. When they lost their mother, and then years later, their father, the brothers began to grow apart. Touched by the loss of their parents, Spencer learned how to be more empathic of other people’s suffering. While he matured and dedicated himself to be a better person (with questionable success), his brother became even more bitter and disillusioned with others. Unable to hold a job for long, he turned to Spencer for money, with resulted in disagreements and finally the end of their friendship.

After getting a job as a professor in a university, Spencer married a colleague and fellow teacher. The marriage didn’t last long and by the time the Pan-African War started in the 90’s, Spencer had already divorced her. Thus, his social life consisted of drinking in a pub while grading papers, when not lecturing.

Hobbies: Reading, watching documentaries, drinking and enjoying a good night of sleep. He occasionally also watches football (or soccer).

Bonus round: Spencer is a fan of The Beatles. He also likes to watch silly reality shows and competitions. He’s fond of Dancing with the Stars, although he won’t ever admit it out loud to anyone.

Alignment: True Neutral.

Name meaning: Well, the meaning of his first name isn’t what’s important in this case, but if he’s telling the truth or not about who he is. His surname, on the other hand, derives from Despenser, which means steward and I thought fitting since the Professor is in charge of protecting and guarding the briefcase.

Trivia: The Last One Out was the last character and chapter I came up with. I felt that I didn’t have someone who showed the spread of the virus and gave the outbreak worldwide validity. That and the fact none of the other characters had this ruthless view of survival or the stakes that the Professor provided. The briefcase always existed, but not him. As I wrote the book, I began to like him even more. At first, I was afraid that I couldn’t like him as much as I did the others, since he was the last one, but the more I wrote him, the easier it was to enjoy his dry humor and outlook on life.


And that’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed the profiles. Next week I’m going on much-needed vacation, but after I’ll start a new series of blogposts, maybe about zombie history to celebrate October.

Meet the Remaining Ones: Lauren Tanaka

Character Profile

Lauren Takana  - Those Who Remain

NameLauren Tanaka

Age: 13

Birthday: June 2

Appearance:  Slim and tall for her age, Laurie is a bit of a tomboy, preferring t-shirts and shorts over dresses.  She feels like she needs to dress differently from every other girl her age, to show how mature she is. But, once and while, she can’t resist flowers, kitties and puppies.

Personality: Laurie is very practical for a 13-year-old, she does what she’s told and enjoys doing well in school. She’s very quiet and pensive, but isn’t afraid of saying what’s on her mind if anyone annoys her enough. She’s used to be bullied somewhat by other girls, but being at academics (Except math, she hates math) guaranteed a spot on Jenny’s group. What she lacks in charisma, she makes up with confidence and determination.

Background: Laurie is the only daughter of a nurse and a writer. Her mother is very busy, doing multiple shifts and volunteer work in her spare time. Because of this, Laurie has a closer relationship with her father, who works from home. They share some secrets for her mother, such as buying candy while she isn’t looking. Her mother is very strict with their diet (especially because her husband has a heart condition) and dislikes junk food and sugary drinks. Overall, they all get along very well, and she really likes spending time with her parents far more than any school friends.

At school, Laurie goes her way to stay out of trouble and recently managed to befriend a group of girls after some years of being an outcast. She goes to their parties and sleep overs, but doesn’t say much or enjoys it. She thinks they are very silly and should focus on studying instead of boy bands and pop music. Knowing this opinion would make her a target for bullying again, she keeps quiet, not out of shame, but out patience for constant conflict. She always looks for the most practical way of surviving high school, and of course, the zombie apocalypse.

Hobbies: Reading trashy romance novels when no one is awake, under her covers (lately she’s reading the Nightfall trilogy). Watching movies, especially sci-fi and fantasy, especially Star Wars. Her father was a die-hard Star Wars fan and initiated her to the series very early, they would watch together all the time and discuss the characters and universe.

Bonus round: Laurie and her father like playing mini-golf and it’s tradition for them to go to the course after Lauren’s mother cancels another family trip. During Laurie’s summer break, she and her father stay awake until Erika’s shift is over in the middle of the night so they can have dinner together and watch bad B horror movies.

Alignment: Chaotic Good.

Name meaning: Nothing really special about her name. Actually, she wasn’t going to be named at all, but I wanted to hint at her heritage and during the critique phase people wondered about it, so I chose Laurie. It was risky to give her a name with the same initial as Lily, as anyone will tell you that’s a no-no and can confuse readers, but this confusion is somewhat intentional. Lily and Laurie are parallels of each other, not outright parallel, but they share a connection, and will be clearer why in book 2 and 3.

Trivia: I actually dreamed Laurie. I know, sounds cheesy! But I did it. I saw her clearly walking around an abandoned mall, searching for her parents, and wishing to go back to the day they were supposed to watch a movie together. She went in a theater and started to imagine the movie and then she meets Peter.


 

The last one, of course, will be the Professor.

Meet the Remaining Ones: Maria Paz

Maria Paz  - Those Who Remain

NameMaria Paz

Age: 30

Birthday: September 1

Appearance: Short, messy and curly black hair, round face and black eyes. Slim, but curvy. Scrubs and crocs are like a second skin to Maria. When she’s out of the hospital, she’s usually too exhausted to bother with anything but a nice pair of fluffy slippers and comfy pajamas.

Personality: Kind, practical, determined and a workaholic, Maria’s life is her profession. Despite her nasty case of savior-complex mixed with past guilty, Maria’s dedication to her patients and hope for a better future pushes her forward despite any adversity. Including zombies. She’s not one to quickly give up on working for the greater good and fall to more selfish tactics of other survivors. She can be cold when circumstances demand a more practical attitude, but it weights heavy on her shoulders.

Background: Daughter of two dentists, Maria grew up in a stable, loving household. But when tragedy took her parents away in a car accident, Maria had little choice but to grow up quickly to take care of her younger sister, Theresa. Now living with an absent uncle who took their parent’s money and left them with nothing, she took part-time jobs while finishing high school. She worked hard to graduate and earn money to support both her and her sister.

Money that Theresa would spend on parties, clothes and alcohol. Frustrated with her sister lack of focus and irresponsible behavior, they started fighting almost every day. Seeing her sister self-destruct with drugs and alcohol, Maria made the decision to distance herself before she could be dragged down along with her. Leaving her sister behind, she went to medical school and started working at St. Jude’s Hospital. They haven’t talked in years.

In the hospital, Maria only concern was to work as hard as she could. Few friends and even fewer boyfriends, her life was treating others, with little time to leisure. Perhaps this was all to make up for abandoning her family behind, perhaps it was a desperate need to fix and control death, either way, this was her life now.

Hobbies: When she’s not working, Maria is thinking about work. She likes to read scientific papers, look for new treatments and research on various subjects, she also attends conventions and seminars. But she does enjoy reading trashy romantic books, as well biographies and historical fiction.

Bonus round: The Paz sisters were very close during childhood. They would share everything, from toys to secrets. Everything but candy. Eating candy was a rare occasion and they would always end up fighting over it. To this day, Maria can’t resist a chocolate bar.

Alignment: Lawful Good.

Name meaning: Well, Maria is a common Latin American name. Paz means in “peace” in Spanish as well in Portuguese, which I think fits Maria’s desire to work towards an almost utopian future, despite zombies pounding on the door.

Trivia: There’s no mention of Maria’s gender in her first chapter, and that’s intentional. The idea was to present the character as a doctor, first and foremost. Maria’s identity is so linked to her profession, that she, herself, can’t see where the doctor ends and Maria Paz starts sometimes.


 

Next is Laurie’s turn!

Meet the Remaining Ones: Lily Hunter

Lily Hunter - Those Who Remain

NameLily Hunter

Age: 21

Birthday: July 26

Appearance: Tall, fit and athletic, Lily exercises daily and enjoys it. She keeps her sleek black hair in a ponytail and that’s about it. She cares very little about clothing, it just has to be practical and cheap.

Personality: Stubborn, intense and loyal, Lily is a complicated woman. She struggles with her own emotions and how to deal with others’ feelings. She wants to belong, but distrust and caution are second nature to her. To the people she cares about, she can be blindly loyal and dangerously protective.

Background: Lily is the daughter of Jacob and Margaret Hunter. And that’s not an easy thing to be. Her family life was a mixture of shouting and cold-shoulders. Between a paranoid father and a difficult mother, Lily managed to stay relatively normal, but the scars of their rocky relationship cannot be easily discarded. In school, she was the problem-girl, always sitting in the back and barely listening to the teacher. She would fight anyone who dared to insult or laugh at her father, especially after the heavily-commented and messy divorce. Faced with gossip and fear, Lily became even more reclusive and distant, preferring the company of her troubled Father over anyone else.

After the divorce, Jacob more dangerous tendencies multiplied: his drinking, his paranoia, his interest in preparing for the worst, all of it. Still young and believing her Father to be always right, Lily obeyed his every order. Soon, she was training daily, learning how to shoot, self-defense and how to hunt. And while this was happening, her mother didn’t even bother to visit her once.

Lily found out about her mother’s marriage by stealing the invitation from her neighbors mail. This last insult resulted in Lily deciding to forget her mother once and for all. Coincidentally, sometime later, Jacob got better. He stopped drinking and by focusing in training Lily, he distracted himself enough not to cause trouble around town. This improvement led him to encourage Lily to graduate and go to college.

Trusting her father to know best, she entered community college. Yet, Lily never felt like she belonged there, or anywhere else for that matter. Something was still missing.

Hobbies: Hunting, watching sports, running and reading. Lily enjoys the outdoors and her perfect day would be hiking in the woods early in the morning, swimming in a lake, eating a quick snack and watching the sunset while reading against a tree.

Bonus round: Lily picked fights with anyone she could. One day she tried picking up a fight with the school’s nicest and popular boy: Roger Gilmore. She provoked him all day, looking for the moment he would snap and fight her. He didn’t. Instead, Roger offered her his notes for the math test later that week. Confused and flustered, Lily took it. And so their friendship started.

Alignment: Neutral Good.

Name meaning: Lily is named after the flower, and Jacob’s choice. I thought it fitted what he wanted for his daughter: purity. It’s also related to the plant Lily of the valley which is sweet, but poisonous. Not that Lily is evil, but she’s certainly not defenseless. Hunter, of course, it’s a play on their hobbies as well their abilities as survivalists.

Trivia: Lily’s chapter was the first one I wrote, and while the core stayed the same, it went through a lot of edits and revisions. The balance between exposition, character’s emotions and establishing the setting was complicated, especially since of all five characters, Lily’s first chapter is not an action scene. Still, the ending is my favorite part of the whole book.


 

Hope you enjoyed this! See you on the next profile!

Meet the Remaining Ones: Danny Terrence

To celebrate Those Who Remain being published and selling its first copies (thanks for those who bought it, if you are out there!), I’m doing a series of posts profiling each of the five main characters of the trilogy. The goal is present a few more details about them and some trivia. The first one to go is Danny, our small town geek.

Danny Terrence - Those Who Remain

NameDaniel (Danny) Terrence

Age: 20

Birthday: February 19

Appearance: Short, stocky with green eyes, goatee, and pierced-ear. Started a diet when he was 18, and lost 30 lbs before the events of Those Who Remain. He wears anything comfortable, especially if the T-shirt has an ironic text or geek-related image.

Personality: Smart, sometimes too honest to the point of being cold, arrogant, but protective of loved ones and loyal to the bitter end. Still immature in many ways, but well-intentioned.

Background: Danny was a shy kid, who liked nothing more than to read and be left alone, but being the Principal’s son placed him in the spotlight. This plus his weight, lack of interest in other children and good grades made Danny an easy target for bullies. After being pushed, laughed at and isolated, Danny’s shyness transformed into arrogance as a form of self-protection. If people didn’t like him, then he wouldn’t like them either. He wasn’t the problem: other people were. After his father was diagnosed with cancer, Danny got worse. He began to fight back and get hurt in the process, and that’s when he met Roger. The two were fast friends, connected by their mutual dislike of bullies and loss of father figures. Roger’s strong sense of justice was just what Danny needed: someone who understood what he was going through with his father and fought back against those Danny hated. Roger was, and is, Danny’s own personal superhero. Of course, being a side-kick isn’t Danny’s style. His strong personality overcame Roger’s more laid-back attitude, and it didn’t take long until Danny was the one calling the shots: what to do, where to go, what to see and read. His dream of leaving his small town for good to become a movie director and his friendship with Roger helped him withstand his high school years.

But after his father’s death and graduation, Danny’s dreams were gone. Before the zombie outbreak, he worked as a freelance web designer, earning more money than many in Redwood, but still living with his mother, the now-retired Principal. Viewed as a lazy, unmotivated and weird, Danny still has to deal with whispers and disapproving stares. In his town, going to college, finding a corporate job in a big city is the only way to be somebody.

That or saving the whole town from the Zombie Apocalypse might do the trick.

Hobbies: Collecting DVDs, comics, and other geek-related products. Playing video games, searching the internet for conspiracy theories and reading books. He really likes George R. R. Martin’s Game of Crowns! (Yes, that’s the correct name… In Danny’s world).

Bonus round: Tried to launch a rocket from his roof and failed miserably. Had a crush on his teacher and Lily. Decided hentai wasn’t for him after being horrified by some adult mangas. Favorite Star Wars character is Princess Leia (has a weak spot for brave kickass ladies). Hides chips and Caramel Galaxys in his room.

Alignment: True Neutral

Name meaning: Danny’s name and surname comes from The Shinning. I didn’t like how “Torrence” sounded, and thought a somewhat more subtle reference would be more interesting. I just find it cute / appropriate that Danny has a connection to a horror movie (and novel, although I haven’t read it) and I ended up always associating him with the image I have of The Shinning’s Danny: a small kid roaming halls with his little tricycle, while everything goes crazy around him. Who also has a bit of dark inside him…

Trivia: Danny was not the first character I imagined for Those Who Remain, in fact, he was the third one. He and Mrs. Terrence came to my mind at the same time. I can’t picture one without the other. They both started off as tropes: the nerd in the basement and the overly dotting mother that didn’t understand technology, but became much more as I plotted out the books (hopefully!). Their first scene was supposed to be Danny telling his mother about the zombies, and she, at first, not believing him. It was very bare, and someone pointed out to me it didn’t work, and I ended up agreeing with her. His first chapter was the only one that drastically changed since I first wrote.


 

And that’s it for now… See you on the next profile!