The Men of 1929: Crafting the Middleman

The Men of 1929: Crafting the Middleman by M.L. Gardner

Originally, 1929 featured two couples: the Garretts and the Jenkins. Knowing there would be a supporting cast and a big story, I didn’t think I could handle more than that. I started running into trouble when they needed to find jobs. Jonathan was blind-sided, and Caleb was waiting for a cue.

They needed a middleman.

Aryl Sullivan appeared, and it happened a lot like the scene where Jonathan gets the surprise of his life and is blind-sided yet again.   

Aryl acts James Dean-esque. (Possibly why he’s the ladies’ favorite by a wide margin.)

When he first appeared, he walked in, spun his chair around, and sat down.

After digging out a smoke from his pocket, he lights up and says, “You know what you need? Me. I can bring these two together. I can keep this thing going and keep them from killing each other.” His eyes were twitching with mischief, and I knew I had found who was missing.

I went back and wrote him in, not too surprised that he showed up with a wife. I integrated them into the story and was happily surprised that it wasn’t too much to carry six main characters in a supporting cast. In fact, it helped to have so many options. When one character needed a rest, I could flip to another and they were ready to go.

Aryl (pronounced like Errol Flynn) is an adventurer. He can’t stand to be bored, always wondering what’s around that next bend. His nature is uninhibited. He was floating from one journey to the next, happy to just be alive, happy to discover new things when he met Claire. All the calls of the wild couldn’t get him to wander far after that.

Even after settling down, he still sought adventure in other ways. He thought nothing of heading to New York and joining Jonathan, learning a new trade and jumping in with both feet.

Of course, financial success allowed for grander adventures that kept him satisfied, like African safaris, elegant cruises, lavish parties, and trips all over the world. (All pre-1929, of course.)

After the crash, he was the most able to revert back to a simple life of looking for opportunities. Seeing what the others couldn’t—and that made him invaluable.

On the flip side, his flirtation with adventure gets him close to the cliff’s edge and it’s easy to go over.

One instance shocked me even as I was typing it. That little confession regarding Paris when he was alone and Jonathan’s companion was heartbroken. I nearly refused. I was actually mad at him. How could he have done that to poor Claire! I got stuck there for two days, not wanting this to be true.

He wouldn’t budge. It was the darker side of an adventure-seeker that often doesn’t see the lines he shouldn’t cross. He did it and he owned up to it. Write it and move on. So I did. They did too.

And then there’s the nightmarish adventure he unwillingly embarked on in Drifter. Another personality might not have gotten in so deep. His was ripe.

Aryl is absolute fun to work with. Even through the trials, he has a lot to give. He is the source of a good amount of comedy and three men working so well together. He’s got a hard edge to him now after all he’s been through, but deep down, he’s still Aryl. He’s loyal to his friends and ready to crack a joke. He’s always looking for hidden possibilities and has shown me many as I have written each book. Situations and crises that I wouldn’t have seen had he not pointed them out.

I’ve beaten up on him a lot over the series, possibly more than any of the others. It’s not because he’s my favorite but because he was willing to go on that adventure with me.