Monday, August 5, 2013

Superhero Romance Novel character bio #12: OverDriver

A supporting character in my Superhero romance novel series, McCallister “Mack” MacReady is head of the Consortium's Machines, Maintenance and Motor Pool Department.  His department seems to alternate between several different names though, and I’m not quite sure if that’s because he has a lot of duties within the organization, or merely a testament to my own laziness as a writer.  Personally, I have more faith in myself than that, so I’m assuming the fact that no one in the books can keep his department’s name straight is a sign of something deeper.  …I don’t know though.  I AM pretty lazy at times…

In any event, Mack is a solidly built man in his 30s.  He has dark brown hair which he doesn’t bother to cut very often, and usually hasn’t shaved in several days because he was too busy doing other things.  He has the roughhewn appearance of someone who works with his hands for a living and likes being outdoors in rural America.  He dresses in flannel shirts, old blue jeans, boots and always wears a battered trucker hat.  He is described as having a rich southern accent, and seems to refer to women as “ma’am” on occasion.  He claims to have several degrees from MIT and seems to spend most of his time tinkering with whatever mechanical what’s-it he’s working on that day, paying very little attention to the people around him.

Mack has the ability to control machines and get them do what he wants them to do, be it making cars drive themselves, causing guns to misfire or making elevators plummet.  The exact limits of his abilities have not been established, but he says that he cannot control computers.  He spends all of his time in the company of the Consortium’s IT department head, Polybius.  The white and chrome device is attached to his arm, and he’s never been shown without it.  He endures Polly’s difficult personality quirks with benign resignation, and counts on her to control the computerized machines which elude his powers.  Whenever possible though, he seems to prefer to just do something himself rather than deal with her, which is understandable given her tendency to mock people.

Personality wise, I consider Mack to be apathetic and estranged, but still a generally nice guy deep down.  If you got in a fight with your boyfriend at a party and he stormed off, Mack is the guy at the party who would grudgingly drive you home, even though he doesn’t know you and doesn’t want to.
He is what I would describe as an honest criminal; he’s a screw up, but if he has a problem with you, you’re going to know it.  He seems to lack all semblance of subterfuge, and is honest about who and what he is.  He’s not the loudest guy in the room, and doesn’t try to be.  He has an odd sense of humor, sometimes has difficulty deciphering what his coworkers are saying (mostly because he doesn’t pay attention to them), and is protective of people he views as his.  Like much of the Consortium, I think he’s lost or been abandoned by everyone he’s ever cared about.  He doesn’t have a lot left in his life, and what little he does have, he values above all else.

I’ve always had the sense that he has worked his way up through the criminal underworld, rather than arriving at super-villainy straight off.  I think something happened in his life which took him off his path, and put him on another road.  I would imagine his criminal past is filled less with plans to take over the world, and more with plans to hijack trucks filled with DVD players and other unglamorous things.  He’s not a god or a being of phenomenal cosmic power; he’s simply a street thug who’s been given superpowers and uses them to try to get through another day.  Much like Poacher and Monty, I think Mack is a survivor.  He’ll do what it takes to stay alive.  He might not always like it, but if it has to get done, then he’ll do it.

His is the domain of the street brawl, the switchblade and the brass knuckles.  He’s not stealthy or a planner.  I think he’s a mechanical genius, but his nose has still been busted more than a few times, and I seriously doubt if he’s ever had much success as a villain or a hero.  I don’t think he’s ever had much success in anything, to be honest.  He’s not trying to rule the world or get rich; he’s just trying to get by any way that he can.  I’ve always considered him one of the members who has lines he thinks he won’t cross, and he’s tired and morose from getting into situations which require him to.

I’ve always seen the Consortium as having little cliques.  There are characters who simply prefer hanging out with one another, and are seldom seen having long conversations with people outside of their group.  Mack’s clique hasn’t really been explored, but for some reason, I’ve always thought that it probably includes Monty.  Not because I think the men are friends (frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine Monty being friends with anyone), just because I think they’ve probably known each other for a while and their departments work together closely.  They represent polar opposites as far as appearance and personality goes, but they still basically have the same interest in machines and understanding the way things work.  I would guess that they define themselves by the other: Mack is not Monty, and Monty is not Mack.    

Mack actually has a long history with the series, and was one of the first characters I ever considered.  In fact, he predates the series, and has existed in my imagination for about a decade now.  The idea of a super villain who controls machines is inspired by the Emilio Estevez film “Maximum Overdrive,” which is also where the name OverDriver comes from as well.  The film concerns a comet which causes all machines to become sentient and evil, and I liked the idea of a villain who could do the same thing.  I don’t remember where I got “McCallister,” but “MacReady” comes from the main character in “The Thing.”  Interestingly, my sister also has a character named “MacReady” in one of her books (Love in the Time of Zombies) who wears a trucker hat everywhere.  Strangely, the two are entirely unrelated though.  They are independent inventions we each created entirely without consulting the other, which is just scary.  I personally chose it because I had always seen him as a trucker, and I thought naming him after Mack trucks seemed like the way to go.

Mack is a character who’s in a lot of scenes, he just doesn’t say much.  If my books were a TV show, the actor who played Mack would be visible in the background every week, but he probably wouldn’t star in his own storyline for a while.  As such, it might seem odd that I would choose to write his bio now, but for some reason, he’s been on my mind lately.  I don’t know why.


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