The character of Jaguar fascinated me in Cafe Au Lait, His story of a man facing great change unveiled itself in my mind as soon as I wrote the last words on Zion's latest adventure. I knew he had to have his own book, but as soon as I finished it, I wasn't sure what genre of book I had written.
I'm apparently not the only one. A few early reviewers have sent me emails telling me Jaguar isn't like their usual read. Talking with my father about it, we both couldn't decide what category it best fits under. That probably has a lot to do with the character himself. Jaguar just doesn't want to be labeled.
I teach my high school students about static and dynamic characters every year. A static character is a character that stays pretty much the same over the course of a novel. Think Rip Van Winkle. Old Rip has pretty much the same outlook at the start of the novel as he does when he wakes from his long slumber at the end of the novel. He winds up telling and retelling his story to keep alive his past, and this rehashing of events doesn't allow him to grow.
A dynamic character changes over the course of a novel. It can be a good change. For instance, Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is the most dramatic example of this. He undergoes a vast transformation that turns him from a miserable, old curmudgeon into a loving, charitable benefactor. However, dynamic characters can also change in the opposite direction. They can become so damaged by their experiences that they are not able to function in society any longer. I think of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, who commits murder at the beginning of the book, then falls into psychological turmoil as a result of his actions. He constantly battles with his own conscience throughout the novel – on one hand, wanting to get away with the "perfect crime" and on the other, to receive redemption.
Jaguar fascinated me because I could feel he was a dynamic character. He had the potential to grow, but at the same time, I could still envision him snapping his fingers at his underlings, expecting absolute obedience and servitude. I'll leave it to my readers to decide if he's more Scrooge than Raskolnikov.
Ultimately, what did I decide to do about the genre designation? I picked family drama because when all is said and done, aren't we all a product of our family drama?
I hope you enjoy this latest entry into my catalogue of characters. I know I enjoyed writing about him.