Every book, every story, needs its “bad guy.” When you think about it, nothing happens in a story until the bad guy—the agent of change—shows up. After all, Bilbo Baggins would still be blowing smoke rings in the Shire if the dwarves hadn’t decided to challenge Smaug and got Gandalf involved.
So in The Road Unsalted, our agent of change—the one whose arc sets the main part of the story in motion—is Gideon Brown.
Gideon’s main story arc is based on something that happened in one of the towns I covered when I was a reporter for the Valley News, the local newspaper here in the Upper Valley. I won’t identify him because I have no wish to embarrass him but let’s just say there was once a prominent figure in a town in New Hampshire who got caught with a woman not his wife just before a key vote in town meeting.
I don’t think I’ll spoil the story if I tell you that Gideon is a serial seducer. Most folks know someone like that. I’ve known two serial seducers in my life, one socially and the other was a family member. So that knowledge had a pronounced impact on Gideon’s creation.
And finally, I found the image for Gideon’s body type in an actor named Simon Callow. Most of you may know him from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.
But it’s Callow’s role as the Reverend Mr. Beebe in A Room with a View that led me to describe Gideon’s body the way I did. There’s a certain scene in this movie—if you’ve seen it you know which one I mean—where you see Callow naked for a few seconds. I’m not sure why that stuck in my head but that’s Gideon.