Damien: The Brand
Damien, the character described on the back cover of The Japson Club as ‘wickedly disarming one moment, and boorishly indifferent the next’, is a chap who conjures up strong – and very mixed - feelings in my readers (some choice remarks shared here!). He has a pretty even following of those who positively adore him, and those who love to hate him.
When someone was quizzing me about some of his traits, and also some very basic things about him the other day (specifically his profession, and who he works for) it got me thinking about the brand that is Damien.
He’s the man who lead character, Anna, does her best to ignore, but instead falls helplessly for. He was one of my favourites to write. Damien is complex, enigmatic and fascinating, and the light and dark of his persona waxes and wanes as the story progresses. Initially he’s quiet and withdrawn – in fact Anna is positively frustrated as she attempts to get to know the monosyllabic, yet remarkably attractive stranger who so arrests her attention. He’s stand-offish, and refuses to engage when he doesn’t want to, he has secrets, and keeps his true feelings very much to himself. He’s also respected from a ‘man’s man’ point of view, and charismatic, ensuring no shortage of women interested in him. His dry sense of humour and deadpan remarks are part of the charm of his personality, but we suspect he has a dark side; is he a heartless womanizer, insensate and emotionally unavailable, or does he really care?
What made you choose ‘pilot’ as his profession?
I needed Damien to appear in the story unpredictably, to keep Anna guessing when she will see him again, and his job needed to be glamourous, to match his somewhat ‘untouchable image’. Pilots can have variable working patterns as they bid for the shifts they want, and working long haul, he disappears for days at a time. The route by which he comes to his job was important too; he’s not
been a commercial pilot his whole life, but came from the Royal Air Force. This attributes him with a physically heroic edge, one which comes into play when he wades in to protect Anna when she is attacked. From a research point of view, I also had a lot of fun watching youtube videos shot from the cockpit of take-offs and landings, and also talking to pilots about the nuts and bolts of their tasks, in order to make the flight scenes real. :)
And why Virgin Atlantic?
Would BA not have suited his rather reserved persona better? Photo Credit: Pexels
I could have left it as him simply being a pilot, and not chosen a brand, but detail adds realism, and branding can reflect and strengthen the complexion and qualities of a personality.
While Damien is reserved, he is notable and somewhat exclusive – He gets noticed by people – He’s attractive and bold, and certainly daring when it comes to riding and some of his behaviours. All these facets I felt were well reflected in the Virgin brand.
Plus of course, the famously good looking Virgin cabin crew help add some uncertainty as to Damien’s good behavior when he is from home…
Maybe too, it’s a nod to one of my favourite entrepreneurs. From my obsession as a youngster, with Tubular Bells (Virgin Records’ first album), to studying A level business, I remember learning about
Richard Branson, and his business strategy, I really liked his ethos, and straightforward style. He was known for his ability to attract attention; how about the off-the-cuff publicity stunt he pulled in 2000, the day the London Eye, sponsored by rival business BA, was to be erected suffered an epic fail? In the midst of a media circus, as the huge wheel lay impotent and prostrate on the ground due to a technical problem, the impish shadow of a Virgin blimp floated overhead, declaring in enormous red lettering; ‘BA can’t get it up’!
And this is the stuff Damien is made of, as he smirks at the unfolding human drama at Rosemount, all the while dodging proverbial bullets himself.
Think you loathe him? I urge you to go back and read The Japson Club again... Do it, because the sequel is coming! :)
And yes, he's in the sequel, grappling with some personal struggles, and a bit grittier this time around. The question is, can Anna stay away from him?