Wednesday 21 August 2019

The Best Year Of Our Lives: The Characters - Paul Adams

For obvious reasons, Paul Adams was at the same time both the easiest and the most difficult character for me to portray.

Easiest, because I had a personal insight into his psyche. I know what makes him tick, even if some of those who share this story with him are not so sure. I share his musical enthusiasms, his anxieties, his yearnings, and his sense of longing for a past that is uncertain, undefined, and in equal part mystical and mythical. Such over-familiarity also made it the most difficult.

The various observations I have received from readers about the character of Paul Adams are noted. He was never going to be wholly the good guy or the bad, he is not a character to be reduced to such binary simplicities. He is a complex subject for analysis, even for me. In varying proportions he is vain, delusional, manipulative, devious, indecisive, sometimes cowardly and most times obsessive. In his defence he is also protective, loyal, romantic, resourceful, pragmatic, aspirational and, in his own mind at least, even visionary. His destination is formless but the path that leads him, and others, to it is forever clear.


Paul is a character confused by time, to the extent that he simply refuses to accept the transient nature of his existence. If it happened at some point in the past and lingers within his soul then as far as he is concerned it is still happening. He cocks a snook at impermanence and plants his flag defiantly upon the hill of his apogee, challenging life to do its worst. The best year of his life is, for Paul, a transcendent experience.

Whatever inspiration I may have drawn from literary greats such as Tolkein or C.S. Lewis, the story which loomed large in my subconscious, particularly in the later chapters, was Quadrophenia. The story of Jimmy the mod, albeit a character slightly older and meaner than Paul Adams, was one with which there were obvious parallels, although I did not consciously plan it that way and the fact only really occurred to me after publication. All the same the idea of Paul riding off a cliff on a stolen scooter to his death once the euphoria of the big event had faded, and everything he had lived for had crumbled so quickly and so completely into dust, seemed to me to be inappropriate and overstated.


Instead I chose to bring him back to Earth with a bump, in an Epilogue so anticlimactic that it would disorient the reader every bit as much as had any of the chapters charting Paul’s ascent to imagined greatness. Or that was the intention anyway. Once the story had been told and the magic had been fulfilled Paul Adams alighted from the wardrobe. Alone.

I feel there are many chapters left in Paul Adams, but what tale they will tell I truly do not know. The best year of anybody’s life cannot, by definition, be bettered.