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Herc’s Mercs, Tom Hiddleston, and The Walking Dead

The interesting thing about the Herc’s Mercs series is that it basically steamrollered us. Ari came up with the basic premise quite a while ago, and we put it on The Plot Bunny List of Doom, but we didn’t focus on it right then. She mentioned it a few times as a possibility when we were casting around for ideas on what to write, but again, we didn’t latch onto it. A few months ago, a Herc plot bunny attached itself to her ankle and started mangling, and since it was inspiring her so much, I rolled with it.

I chose to write Jude in “Herc’s Mercs: The Bigger They Come” because action isn’t really one of my strengths as a writer, and I wasn’t confident I could pull off writing Herc. Once we hashed out the basic plot and started writing, the story flowed, and we’d scarcely reached the end of the rough draft before we were coming up with ideas for Herc 2.

“Herc’s Mercs: Line in the Sand” is coming out later this year from Torquere Press, and it focuses on Alec “Red” Davis (you were right, Macky!) and Jon Baldwin, an actor who has recently skyrocketed to fame thanks to his starring role in a summer blockbuster. Alec is Herc’s right hand man, and he hasn’t been in the field for a while, so Herc assigns him as Jon’s bodyguard to change up his routine and get him back in the action again.

We tossed around various ideas for the plot, and since we knew we wanted to avoid repetition, giving Jon a stalker was out of the question. Jon does end up in peril, and Alec has to call on all of his strength and wits to save him, but it’s a very different kind of peril than Jude and Herc faced.

Once again, I chose to write the client, but Jon is very different from Jude, personality-wise. I used things I’d gathered from interviews I’d seen with Tom Hiddleston to form Jon’s personality. The consensus seems to be that Hiddleston is this genuinely happy person

 

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who is very kind and generous with his fans and who enjoys the hell out of his life

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and he works hands-on for UNICEF.

 

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And then I saw this

and I was like, “…I have an idea for the opening scene.” Well, after I was coherent enough to form words again, that is.

The funny thing is, the more I see of Hiddleston and his PA/handler (Luke), the more amused I am because some of the photos I’ve seen of the two of them remind me of Jon and Alec.

 

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Jon: “OMG YAY! People! I love people! Hello, people!”
Alec: “Dear God, just let me get through this with his body and my mind intact.”

Plus the fact that Tom will tell Luke to “wait” while he’s interacting with fans. So yeah, there’s a heavy Hiddleston influence to the way I’ve written Jon. It was quite a shift from writing Jude, who is prickly and snarky and defensive, especially since we wrote the two stories back to back. In a way, writing Jon was like decompressing. Jude had issues out the wazoo, but Jon is pretty much issue-free, so writing him was a nice, angst-free break.

Somewhere in there, Ari and I binge-watched The Walking Dead. It was right after the second half of season 4 started. Back when the show first started airing, I watched the whole first season and part of the second before quitting, not because I didn’t like the show but because it literally gave me nightmares. I’d watch an episode, and it was inevitable that I’d dream about zombies that night. I think it was because I watched the show alone, and I didn’t have anyone I could really talk to about it to help me decompress before going to bed.

I remembering telling Ari at least a couple of times that I knew which character she’d fall for if she ever watched the show because we both like the same type. If there’s a snarky bad boy/anti-hero with Issues, we’re going to adore him. It never fails, and we are amusingly predictable about it. Duke Crocker from Haven, Sean Renard from Grimm,  Loki… and Daryl Dixon.

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Ari started watching season 1, and again I said, “I know who your favorite character is going to be.” Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was getting chat messages that basically translated to “Daryl ❤ ❤ ❤ “. I picked up watching with her toward the end of season 2, and we binged together on season 3 and as much of 4 as we could until we were caught up, and then we watched the new episodes and flailed at each other every week for the rest of the season. Fortunately, I remained nightmare-free this time around, and I think it’s because I wasn’t (technically) watching it alone this time, and I could babble about it to someone instead of having all the post-show thoughts and feels crowded in my own head with no outlet.

And out of that, Herc’s Mercs 3 was born. Daryl “D-Day” Greer is a snarky bad boy badass with Issues. He’s a huge risk taker, and he has problems with authority. He’s far more comfortable with flinging himself out of an airplane than with revealing his heart. He’s sent to rescue Emerson Winfield, who’s being held for ransom by terrorists, and sparks fly as soon as the two meet. On the surface, Daryl and Emerson are an unlikely match. Daryl is a rough around the edges country boy, and Emerson is a workaholic scientist from a socialite family in Boston. Emerson isn’t any better with soft words and tenderness than Daryl is, so the question is whether the two of them can learn to understand each other out of bed.

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For Herc 3, Ari wrote Daryl, and I wrote Emerson, who is more snarky than Jon but doesn’t really have issues. His snark stems from the way his family interacts; they’re all more prone to poke at each other than offer hugs, so he was pretty much raised with the idea that snarking = caring.

Herc 3 is in the post-production stage, so to speak. We have a rough draft finished, and we let it sit for a bit. Just this week, we went in and added/revised some things that we thought needed work after a post-fridge read, and it’s now in my hands awaiting a final edit before we send it off.

“Herc’s Mercs: The Bigger They Come” has been more successful than we anticipated, for which we’re very grateful! We hope our readers enjoy the second and third installments of the series as well.

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