I’ve been told that Jon Fixx introduces a new hero archetype to the literary landscape, one that has not been seen before, a man who is fragile, sensitive, emotionally available, willing to shed his own tears over a woman.
When I created the character of Jon, I did not give any thought to creating a new archetype. I did, however, intend to create a young man who wore his emotions on his sleeve, who found it almost impossible to withstand the emotional tidal waves of getting dumped, who cried openly when his girlfriend told him she’d fallen in love with another man. In many ways, Jon reacts to his break-ups with manner and characteristics we – societal standards – attribute to a woman more than a man.
Why create this emotional character?
Growing up, one of the biggest shocks of my life was how much it hurt to be in love or, rather, to fall out of love. I read voraciously as a child, and I was allowed to watch as much TV as I wanted, and none of this reading and television prepared me for what it felt like to break up with a lover, especially as a man. I knew what break-ups looked like on TV, how they were portrayed in the novels I read. Women were allowed to cry. Women called their friends to vent, to discuss, to gain clarity, to feel solidarity. Men, on the other hand, did none of these things. Men were stoic, unaffected, often apparently unfeeling, off to the bar for a drink and a new number.
So that first break up was far more painful than I was prepared for, as was every one after that. Growing up, I figured I was an outlier, more damaged than my buddies, that possibly something was wrong with me. But I got older, matured, and I paid attention. As the years passed, I watched my close male friends, how they handled their misanthrope, how they mourned their love lost. And I realized I wasn’t an outlier, that my feelings were neither unusual nor unexpected. My buddies were going through the same things.
What I discovered in my travels was that, for men, what was unacceptable was allowing others to witness our break up machinations. Similar to “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” as long as we didn’t let others know , there was no problem. If you don’t show it, it doesn’t exist. But the moment we pulled back the curtain, let another man see our tears, see our raw emotion, let the feelings overwhelm us, we were revealing a secret society had little interest in discovering. It runs counter to everything we are taught growing up: men don’t behave that way. Period.
But Jon Fixx is different. His emotions drive his decisions, and he feels so intensely that he often goes to extremes that many men would be embarrassed to admit to but may in fact take. He so badly wants to be in love, that he doesn’t know what to do with himself when he does not have a muse with whom he can share his feelings. He doesn’t hide his tears, he’s not embarrassed by his emotions, he has no problem telling his partner how he feels.
But does all this mean, then, that Jon is effeminate, cowardly, weak? FAR FROM IT. Jon is a man through and through. He can handle himself, as he proves numerous times while unfolding the story of the Vespucci family. I’ve created a character who is more than a stereotype, more than your average novice detective. He’s a complicated individual.
I invite you to get the book, read Jon’s story and also discover the other characters who make Jon who he is. Hopefully you’ll enjoy him.
P.S. I want to give a shout-out to Segun for introducing this topic in our interview, which of course afforded me the chance to write this post.