Brad Cantwell is a character in my novel, The Foolish and the Weak. He drives, and is rather fond of, a late-model, black Chevrolet Camaro.
If you’ve read my book, then you already know that Brad is someone who you’re not entirely sure whether you can trust or not. If you haven’t read it, let’s just say he’s not a bad guy, and he seems well-intentioned, but it also seems like he could be looking out for his own best interests at any moment, regardless of how that might affect anyone else.
He is the young man who takes Paz Kirkegaard, our 19-year-old protagonist, to a DC dance club, attempts to grope her, and then receives a well-placed kick for his actions. It is from there that Paz flings herself out into the cold March night, oblivious to other men who are trying to chase her down.
Brad plays a significant role throughout the book and can always be counted on for a quick barb and playing devil’s advocate.
(While I didn’t write him specifically to match any particular actor, I’ve thought of him as looking like Justin Hartley, whom I first became aware of from his recurring role as Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, on Smallville.)
In contrast, Brad’s Camaro has only a cameo in TFATW, which is sad, if you ask me. In the second book, The Wise and the Mighty, the Camaro is back, however, and believe it or not, has a fairly critical part in the plot.
I’m not a motorhead. I’ve never worked on an engine in my life (that’s my Dad), and aside from adding gas, oil, antifreeze, water or air, I have done very little maintenance on any of my cars. Thus, I could hardly be considered an expert. However, like most people, I have an opinion, and I know what I like.
For as long as I can remember, I’d wanted a 1960s Stingray Corvette—like the one in the short-lived (and looking back, deservedly so) TV series, Stingray. I saw one episode, which must have been the pilot, and at the end, that car disappeared down a winding road through the trees. It was awesome.
Up until my birthday last year, I still wanted a Corvette. That was before I bought the new Camaro. Now, if I ever get a ’60s Stingray Corvette, cool, but if I don’t, I’m perfectly okay with that.
The strange thing about it is, as much as I’d wanted a Corvette, I never wanted a Camaro. The original Camaro was a cool car. Then, the ’70s happened to it, then the ’80s, and then the ’90s. It took forever for it to recover—until 2010. A lot of us saw it debut, along with Transformers, in the form of Bumblebee’s alter ego, in 2007.
I wasn’t that excited about it then (the Corvette Concept in Transformers 2 caught my eye, though), but when I started to see them on the road in 2010, I knew I wanted one. I was driving a 2004 Mazda RX-8 at the time, and was enjoying it, so there wasn’t a justification (to my wife or to myself) to run out and get the Camaro. Thus, I waited nearly a year to make the change.
Now, I didn’t run out and buy it so I could write about it firsthand. You know the old adage, write what you know? I’d finished the first draft of TFATW in May of 2011. The Camaro came after that. As seldom as the car appears in the first book, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference, either way. It has helped, in some fashion, though, to have it for the second book.
I just like the car. It’s been fun to drive. People will say, “I like your car.” Instead of thanking them, which would seem to mean I was somehow responsible for its existence, I reply, “I like it, too.” That’s only backfired on me once, when a woman said, “Well, I hope so. You’re driving it.”
Now, I do have to say, the Camaro is not the only personal family vehicle to appear in TFATW.
My wife has a 2006 Mercury Mountaineer, which to me, is an upgraded version of the Ford Explorer, although the former might be less popular and has been discontinued. We’ve had three Explorers in addition to the Mountaineer, and by far, it’s the best of the lot.
In the book, the Mountaineer is the family vehicle waiting at the Houston airport when Paz, her mother, Paloma, and her brother, Thomas, return home to Bryan, Texas.
My son decided he wanted a 2010 Volkswagen Jetta. We were looking to trade in the 2001 Ford Taurus we had for something similar—another family car. He was going to drive it, though, and the car I thought would work best (I don’t even remember what it was now) just wasn’t to his 22-year-old liking. I’m sure it would have done nothing for his ego or his image, either. Not that the Jetta does, but shhh, don’t tell him that.
That car, we bought in late 2011, well after TFATW was written. Paz’s best friend, Madison Townsend, drives one in the book.
Now, our family isn’t alone in having life imitating art. One other vehicle in the book is now owned by someone involved with the novel. The book’s editor bought a later model Buick LaCrosse, which Paz, Paloma, and security chief, Colin Haynes, rent and drive.
I think it would be great for any of our cars to be used if a movie were ever made of TFATW. It will need to happen soon, though. My wife wants to trade the Mountaineer in for something more economical. As for the Camaro, we’ll need a stunt double or awesome special effects. It’s a spoiler if I tell you why, so I’ll just leave it at that.