Character Dysfunction: Creating the Rooks
Six years ago, I set out to write a book series about a cynical pariah with a murderous dark side. Instead of creating a hero, I wanted to create an anti-hero who was also strangely relatable. Improper, imperfect, and unstable are a few of my MC’s more adoring traits. I wanted to create a contract killer struggling with her conscience, but still enjoyed killing. What came out of it was an entire world of dysfunctional characters: the alcoholic socialite, the manic-depressive doctor, and the sociopathic hired gun were just the beginning of creating this world of hilariously imperfect men and women.
As my series stretched on, the flaws defined these characters. In my second book, Uncontrollably Wasted, I introduced a duo that sparked from an idea I had while gaming with my friends, DeMarko and Eric: two completely different personalities who were inseparable since they were kids. While my friends are rather docile, I created their counterparts, Ethan, the teenage psychopath and his best friend, Dante… seemingly unflawed at first. I called them the Rooks since my MC, Frankie Fairholm, had to train them to be killers- a job she was completely awful at since those who can do can’t teach.
I started with a question of who’s more disturbed? A teenage killer or his best friend who would take the fall for him? Ethan wants to kill, and Dante wants to understand and protect his friend no matter what extreme he has to go to. Dante turns to contract killing to keep his friend in check, which raises a similar question: how far would you go for your best friend? These characters don’t make good choices, they don’t think things through… and that lands them smack in the middle of Frankie’s world, killing for profit.
Come to find out, Dante is a natural with a sniper rifle, and he accepts his fate. He’s one of the only characters to not have an outright “flaw” to become a killer. Ethan, on the other hand, falls in line with Frankie and begins to struggle with who he is. Unable to feel, he starts wanting to understand feelings. He clashes with Frankie, calls her out, and ends up with one of my more favorite pep talks in the last book.
I enjoyed creating the Rook’s dynamic while laying the ground work for their own series, which I plan to write in the coming years. Dysfunctional characters and wild adventures are my calling. Never be afraid to create the unconventional.
**attached photo taken by Perry R. Wooldridge of JP Photography
ELEGANTLY WASTED (Wasted #1)
On the eve of her high school graduation, proper socialite Francesca “Frankie” Fairholm rebelled against her elitist and controlling family to pursue the dark lifestyle of a contract killer for the enigmatic Osiris Corporation. Years later, with her training complete, she believes she's doomed to the life of a sociopathic lone gun until a botched hit brings two unlikely allies, her cousins Addison and Katharine.
Using Katharine’s etiquette school, Elegance, Inc., as a front, the trio weave through Frankie’s dark underworld, carrying out contracts, drinking too much wine, and trying not to get each other killed.
Trouble follows the team home when the death of the cruel Fairholm matriarch reveals more than they ever wanted to know about their family. As the funeral preparations play out, the trio begin to realize there is much more to their employer than meets the eye and their family connections run deeper than they ever imagined.
UNCONTROLLABLY WASTED (Wasted #2)
“I needed to learn to be less melodramatic, but it was hard in this family.”
It’s been a year since Francesca Fairholm met the rest of the Osiris team and the company heads, her two half brothers Nero and Lex. As they groom her for leadership, it’s all Frankie can do to keep her cynical sarcasm in check as she starts training two new Strikers, avoids the romantic advances of Spark Dawson, and does her best to pry a little family history from her cold, distant Aunt Alexa.
With the pressure of her secret dual life building and her mother acting strangely, Frankie’s sanity is pushed to the brink when she makes a grisly discovery that shakes the young Striker to her core. Despite her cousins’ fear that her panic attacks signal a full mental breakdown,
Publicity by Jen Halligan
Frankie is positive she’s not crazy. Finding clarity in her personal investigation into Osiris’s origins, she uncovers more about the company than she would rather know.
As her life starts to unravel, things get deadly and, before she knows it, she’s facing down an old target’s pissed-off widow, an unstoppable mercenary, and the one thing she’s most terrified of admitting to herself. It’s possible the whole situation won’t explode in her face. Yeah, like Frankie has that kind of luck.
WASTELAND (Wasted #2.5)
Inside the halls of Osiris, the men and women who make the contract killing agency tick polish their weapons and hone their skills. But how did they start working for Nero and Lex in the first place, and when did they find out they were destined to kill people for a living?
Before Frankie Fairholm let you into her crazy, dysfunctional world of murder for hire, the lives of these men and women were already in danger. Their training was put to the test alongside their morals.
A troubled Catholic school girl with a penchant for murder, a naive con-woman in over her head, a driven socialite with a bad day that keeps getting worse, an assassin second-guessing his sworn oath... being a contract killer doesn’t mean you aren’t human, it just means your humanity is hard to find, and probably a bit tarnished.
TOTALLY WASTED (Wasted #3)
Welcome to family therapy, Fairholm style.
When Osiris headquarters fell, Frankie ran away with Spark Dawson, hoping the open ocean would wash the chaos of her life away. The Nameless, and her own primal urges, soon intrude and before Frankie knows it, she and Spark are traveling to Hong Kong to face what’s left of the company.
There she finds her entire family under the protection of the Sha Lù. Kat and Addi are pissed, Nero has given up, Judah won’t let anyone leave, and her mother and aunts are getting along for once in their lives. Things are weird.
Because Frankie’s life is never complicated enough, Spark becomes dead set on uncovering the deadly secrets Judah hid from him–and gets more than anyone bargained for in the answers he discovers.
Publicity by Jen Halligan
Tensions are high and morality is low as Frankie starts unraveling the threads that bind them all together. As old ghosts haunt her thoughts and new enemies dance just outside her reach, she has choices to make that determine the future of everyone she knows. Now all she has to do is convince everyone she knows what she’s doing.
After all, if Osiris doesn’t fight the Nameless, they’ll all have to hide behind the Sha Lù for the rest of their lives...and the wine supply is running out.
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ABOUT C. ELIZABETH VESCIO
C. Elizabeth Vescio is the author of the Wasted Series and Adventures of the Dress. She published her first book, Elegantly Wasted in 2012. Cara is also a photographer, gamer, cosplayer and animal enthusiast. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four mutts. She’s passionate about Shakespeare, Paul Simon and Loki as portrayed by Tom Hiddleson.