Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

June 11, 2015


Character Occupations

By Karla Brandenburg

I’ve recently seen a trend in novels toward main characters who are billionaires, or at least independently wealthy. While that makes for an easier character to draw (they don’t have to go to work), my preference is for hard-working folks. A hard-edged cop or a fireman struggling to get by, both with built-in conflicts with people afraid they won’t come home from work on a given day. I’ve been reading an author who writes strong male (alpha) characters, and she always takes us along on a day in their work lives. I find those stories infinitely more interesting than the ones with the misunderstood rich guys.

With that being said, I’m currently reading a novel that contains a slew of wealthy characters. A family and the folks they encounter (each family member has their own book). The books do present both sides of wealth – the cockiness that wealth brings and the misperception that can also be a part of the money – and so far, I’m not being off-put by the flash of cash in the sample of the series that I’m reading. It is a little tiresome that all the family members have close encounters with famous people, however. One’s a movie star, one’s a rock star, one’s a pop icon.

At the last writer’s conference I attended, the agents and editors who spoke did raise this trope as one that is highly popular. It’s not enough to write about wealthy people, they have to be obscenely rich. Millionaires are a thing of the past. They have to be billionaires.

When you read a book, does a character’s occupation draw you in? Turn you off?

Gathering Mist, by Karla Brandenburg

In my latest novel, Gathering Mist, my hero is a rock star, but I haven’t directly addressed the matter of his wealth. Likewise, my heroine has also become independently wealthy as a result of an inheritance, but both of them come from humble beginnings and the conflict isn’t the money as much as their history together (during the leaner times). I didn’t intentionally write wealthy characters, but I did want to write the rock star since it fit the model I’d chosen for my hero.

Most of my characters are more the “everyday” variety. A meeting planner, a mortgage broker, an advertising executive. I prefer characters I can relate to (and yes, in Gathering Mist, the rocker was someone I could relate to. It might have been better to show the reality, which is that most aspiring musicians don’t hit the big time).

What kind of characters do you like to read about? Do you prefer the fantasy of being swept off your feet into a glamorous world of wealth and privilege? Or do you like reading someone else’s everyday life and what makes their lives interesting, the challenges they face on a daily basis?

Thanks for stopping by.

Leave me a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win your choice of my two most recent ebooks – a story about wealthy characters (Gathering Mist), or working-man characters (Return to Hoffman Grove).


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Posted in Let's Talk, with Karla Brandenburg, zed: Former Authors • Tags: , , , , |  10 Comments


10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

  1. I prefer books that have some semblance to my reality and that is working class! I have noticed the billionaire trend in books and I think it’s odd. I guess it’s escapism.

    1. I have a hard time relating to people
      who have things handed to them/readily available. In the end, the hero threw down cash to buy his dream mansion. I couldn’t quite fathom it.

  2. I think the books about the wealthy all transport us to another reality. I recently read about a commoner dating a royal. Thought I wouldn’t like the story, but it was wonderful. Oftentimes it seems in this life we’re faced with the challenge of happiness or longer hours/financial gain. It’s a treat to read about someone who’s happy and fulfilled and rich. A visit to never never land….

  3. I’m always wondering why people choose the occupations they do. Was being a garbage collector their dream job? But it seems readers prefer the “glamorous” occupations for their heroes.

  4. I love seeing all types of characters within books… for me it is all about the journey they take throughout their story… see how they deal with things… from an everyday person to a billionaire…

  5. I don’t much like uber-rich characters, which is strange, because one of my series protagonists is a millionaire (insurance settlement from an accident). He comes from working class background, and was a cop before the accident, so I like the conflict between his lifestyle now and his lifestyle then and the identity crisis that comes with it. Plus it gives me an excuse to visit Ferrari Atlanta and sit in those Corinthian leather seats, just for a little while. That’s my escapism. 🙂

  6. It depends on my mood. Most times I prefer a working man or woman, but sometimes, yes, sometimes I’m in the mood for the rich guy. But then I see a Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan and it totally ruins the fantasy. 🙁

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