Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Brian Evans

The next character feature in this series is Brian Evans, created by author Joseph Lewis for his thriller crime novels. Joseph is semi-retired from a long career in education, which admittedly helps him create realistic young characters, including Brian, who he calls “a positive, tragic protagonist.” I have read all of his award-winning books, including the most recent, Fan Mail and enjoyed them. Here, I will let him tell you about his character and his books.

Brian Evans appears initially as a side-character in the last book of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives. He appears as a recurring character in Caught in a Web through my newest book, Fan Mail. He has become a fan favorite and, like many of my characters, is weighed down with baggage, both good and bad. Typically, he is a moral, deep-thinking character, a leader and athlete, and is a great friend to his adopted brothers.

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

He is a twin and many parents use the same first initial in naming twins. His twin brother, Brad, is deceased (Splintered Lives). I liked the way it sounded, Brian and Brad Kazmarick, but after Brad’s death and Brian’s adoption, he became Brian Evans. I need a positive, tragic protagonist, and Brian fit the bill. He has become a central figure in my last five books, and is central to the action in Fan Mail. I tell the story from his point of view and through his eyes.

Tell us more about [the book].

Fan Mail is not only a story about a patchwork family of adopted brothers and the stress and strain these letters have on the family. It not only is a story about how these letters cause so much stress on the family that the father has a heart attack and how the otherwise close-knit brothers are pulled apart from one another. It is a story of integrity, leadership, of standing up for and defending what is right and just, even in the face of extreme odds and conditions.

Fan Mail is a thriller-crime-mystery with a strong coming-of-age theme running throughout the book. 

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

Brian is a composite of many of the kids I worked with in my 47 years in education as a teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator. He is like many, and his “story” is drawn from my years as a counselor and coach, but he is no one former or current student of mine.

Is your character likable or not?

Brian is absolutely likeable. He has integrity and is a moral and ethical young man. Southerners use the term “Old Head” to describe someone wise, someone who acts and thinks beyond their years. Brian would certainly fit this description.

Extract from the book in which the character appears.

The passage below takes place in an English classroom discussing the book Lord of the Flies. I chose this book because of the implications it has on the action that takes place in Fan Mail. The two books are similar in that respect.

Brian crumpled up the call slip summoning him to the guidance office. He pushed it to the corner of his desk as far away as possible without tossing it on the floor. His English teacher, Penny Rios, looked at him questioningly, but didn’t question him about it. 

Brian didn’t want to see his father, Jeremy. The ride to school was not only unexpected, but uncomfortable. Normally, Jeremy signed his own slips, not Farner, the assistant principal. That was a twist. Still, he ignored it.

Besides, Rios was one of his favorite teachers, and the discussion they were having on Lord of the Flies was a good one. Even though they were only supposed to read up to the fourth chapter, Brian had read the entire book in three days. 

“Who would you consider a strong, independent character? Perhaps a leader among the boys?” Rios asked.

The answers ranged from Jack to Ralph to Piggy. Brian’s friend, Shannon Pritchert, mentioned Simon, which was an unusual answer.

Puzzled, Rios asked, “Why Simon?”

“I don’t consider him to be a leader, but he was independent. He wasn’t buying into either side. He spent most of the time by himself,” she said.

Brian nodded.

“Brian, you’re pretty silent today. What are your thoughts?”

He said, “It depends upon what you think strong means. Honestly, I don’t think any of them are strong. Being strong means having integrity. Ralph didn’t defend Piggy even when he was being picked on. If he had integrity, he would have defended Piggy no matter who was against him. Jack broke rules he felt weren’t necessary, even though there needed to be order. A person with integrity doesn’t break rules just because he might not like them. Piggy whined and complained, but he tried to establish order. I think because of his size and his whining, no one paid attention to him. A leader has to have followers.” 

He looked over at Shannon, smiled, and said, “I have to think about Simon. I hadn’t thought of him being independent until Shannon mentioned him.”

“What is your definition of integrity?” Rios asked.

Brian didn’t wait to be called upon. He said, “Someone who speaks the truth and lives it even when others don’t. A person who is genuine.”

“That can make someone pretty unpopular, don’t you think?”

Brian nodded and said, “It’s what makes someone strong. Speaking the truth and following the rules, no matter who else does or doesn’t. Being willing to take a stand, even if it’s unpopular. Standing up for your beliefs. If you don’t do those things, you don’t have integrity and you aren’t strong.”

As I stated earlier, Fan Mail and the story of the Evans brothers and family is told through Brian’s eyes. It’s his perspective, his story of his place in the family. Those who have read my other books, knows the journey Brian has been on, the difficulties he has faced, almost to the point of death. He is the defender and the protector of his brothers in many ways, but the hard shell the reader sees on the outside hides the soft vulnerability in Brian’s heart and soul. Yet, this passage summarizes Brian’s core beliefs, and in the end, he almost pays the price for it.

Author’s Bio

Joseph Lewis

Having been in education for forty-seven years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator, Joseph Lewis has semi-retired and now works part-time as an online learning facilitator. He is an award-winning author and uses his psychology and counseling background to craft thriller/crime/detective mysteries. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC. 

Lewis has published nine books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (May 2021) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (May 2021) Book One of the Lives Trilogy is a BestThrillers 1st Place Award Winner for Crime Fiction, and a Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner; Shattered Lives (May 2021) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (May 2021) Book Three of the Trilogy (May 2021); Caught in a Web (April 2018), which was a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Crime Fiction and named “One of the Best Crime Fiction Thrillers of 2018!” by Best Thrillers; Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019), which was named a Recommended Read by Author’s Favorites; Betrayed November 2020 is a Best Seller on Amazon in Two Categories, a Top Shelf Award 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; Top Shelf Award Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; PenCraft Award 1st Place Winner, Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery-Suspense, a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner, and a Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Rating Winner; Blaze In, Blaze Out (January 2022) was named Thriller-Action Book of the Year for 2022 by BestThrillers, Literary Titan Gold Book Award, A Reader’s Favorite Award Winner, an Author’s Shout Award Winner, and was an Editor’s Pick by . Lewis’ newest thriller-crime-mystery, Fan Mail, is a Maxy Award Finalist and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner. Fan Mail is a coming-of-age story wrapped in a thriller fans are sure to enjoy.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily. He and his wife now live in Virginia.

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