Why is Mark so nice[, boring, immature, ordinary]?
Many reviewers have noted in their reviews that Mark is not a typical YA hero. He's not a super-hero, a super-jock, a super-geek, a super-bad-boy, or a super-star.
Mark is a nice, ordinary teen guy. He'll change, of course. Over the three book series, he'll mature, particularly toward the end of the final book. But I had to create him as average because that is exactly what Susanna needed.
A super-anything guy wouldn't have been interested in Susanna, and she would've been put off by him. She needed someone who was kind, polite, and curious. She had to be paired with someone who, when the situation called for it, was able to draw upon his reserves of strength and become more than he could've possibly imagined. Mark fits that description.
Here are some things to keep in mind about the hero of the Whisper Falls series.
- It isn't fair to compare Mark to Susanna. I doubt there are many teens in contemporary America who could ever be as mature as Susanna. She was forced into servitude at ten. She's been a working adult for 8 years. No modern teens biking through Umstead Park USA could approach her maturity. If you must compare Mark, compare him to other guys his age.
- Susanna is a good judge of character. She sees into the core of Mark's being and recognizes his innate decency. Sure, he makes mistakes. He regresses when he gets back to school and starts hanging out with his classmates. But he's still just a genuinely good guy waiting for the right catalyst to draw the greatness out of him. Susanna will be that catalyst--eventually.
- Mark's growth is slow and steady. He's a late bloomer. Until he met Susanna, he had little reason to be amazing. Although he did live through bullying in middle school, he's had no real opportunities to excel at anything that matters...until Susanna. Over the length of the trilogy, Mark will mature. He'll cycle through periods of setbacks and growth. Yet, by the end of the series, he will be so much more than when the story began.
I wrote Mark because teens should know that it's fine to be (so-called) average. They don't have to be the best at any of the things that society (or high school) deems important. All they have to be is good people; the rest will follow. I hope they see themselves in Mark, a character who demonstrates that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.
[I often get questions about the Whisper Falls series. I'll answer each of the most commonly asked questions in a separate blog post. You can navigate to them in the FAQ on my website too.]