As some of my readers already know, I’m going to spend some time doing a spotlight on each of the characters from my novel The Source. This will help all of us – including me – to get to know each one better. Not to mention how much fun I’m going to have doing it!
On January 23rd I posed the question on my Facebook page – “I’m going to start spotlighting the characters from The Source. Who would you like to see spotlighted first?” The first comment requested that we focus on Rick, so he will be our esteemed first spotlight.
Ah, Rick – tall, dark hair, lavender-looking eyes and kissable lips…a vampire.
Yet there are so many layers to Rick. You will notice that I entitled this blog entry “Character Spotlight – DR. Rick Allsetdt.” Rick is proud of what he’s been able to do with his education. Rick was so involved in his time at university that he didn’t socialize much. The advances in science took up most of his thoughts to the point that he didn’t even think much about women. When he was turned into a vampire and had to go into hiding, he was faced with the reality that his academic career was over. This side of being a vampire had a HUGE impact on him. His scientific work and academic success was such a large part of his identity, when he turned, it really was like he was a completely different person. He struggled early on in his life as a vampire because he could not get over the loss of something that was the central part of his life. This is indicative of a certain way that Rick views himself in the world – he was more concerned about not being able to finish his degree more than the loss of his own life.
When vampires went public, it was something that Rick fully supported in part because as long as vampires could peacefully get along with their non-vampire brothers and sisters, Rick could finish his education and obtain his PhD – and that’s exactly what he did. The loss of his education, along with its miraculous return, is the main reason why Rick takes so much pride in what he’s been able to accomplish. You might recognize in The Source that many times when Rick introduces himself – or someone else who has a PhD – he makes sure to use the title Doctor. This is not something that Rick takes lightly and he can be very insistent on it, which unfortunately has the added effect of him coming off as arrogant, an intellectual elitist. Closer examination of Rick will show that part of this aspect of his personality is more about giving respect where respect is due. He undoubtedly thinks that anyone who has done that much academic work to attain the Doctor title should be respected by being called Doctor. He even extends this same courtesy to others of position by always addressing Caulfield with “Mister.”
Using a person’s title is not just a recognition of their position of esteem with Rick – not using them usually means one of two things…either a slight to that person OR Rick’s acknowledgment of a certain level of intimacy in the relationship, such as with Emma. Rick has a great deal of respect for Emma and when they meet new people on the project he introduces her as Dr. Emma Burcham (in contrast, Emma doesn’t focus on titles that much and tells people to just call her Emma). At first glance this almost seem chauvinistic because it’s as if Rick is taking on the standard male role of controlling a situation in being the one to always introduce Emma. The truth is that he wants to make sure that everyone recognizes Emma’s position, even if she does have a simpler “know-all-about-your-neighbors-by-name” Appalachian approach.
This is not the only controlling aspect of Rick’s personality. He will often use his vampire abilities to protect those around him, regardless of how creepy that may appear. As part of his acceptance of being a vampire, Rick felt a sense of duty to use his abilities to be almost like a warrior, a protector of those who cannot usually protect themselves – mostly non-vampires. In his early experiences as a vampire, Rick became even more aware of the vulnerability of most of the people of the world – the ones often referred to as humans, the ones who aren’t vampires (this is a sticking point with Rick because he still very much considers himself human, just of the vampire variety). Because of a non-vampire’s rather quick mortality, Rick not only had a sense of protecting the ones he cared for, but he quickly learned that they could be snatched away within the span of a moment. Now that vampires are accepted in society he has a somewhat tenuous relationship with them. He has a strong desire to protect them when he can, but won’t allow himself to get TOO close because he’s abundantly aware that regardless of his vampire abilities, he cannot prevent the inevitable – death.
This is the paradox of Rick – he cares deeply, but forces himself not to get too close. This is a huge driving force in his relationship with Emma and unfortunately, she often takes it as something different…on the one hand he takes such liberties as having a talk with Tucker but at the same time will emotionally shut down if the conversation comes too close to matters of the heart. Emma can get very frustrated by this because all she has to go on – aside from Rick’s great looks and intelligent mind – is the fact that he won’t get too close to her and often does things (like talking to Tucker) that make it seem like he doesn’t trust her own decisions, that she’s socially incompetent, particularly when it comes to men. Until Emma is really able to understand why he does the things he does – which will require Rick actually opening up a lot more than he has – she will continue to guess at his intentions. This actually causes a paradox within Emma, too, because she thinks he’s super hot, has had some meaningful conversations with him, but has also had her mind twisted with the frustration of his “I’m-close-but-not-too-close” actions with her.
Anyone who has read The Source recognizes that Emma has her own issues to work through – but so does Rick. Only time will tell if they will be able to work through them together.