Dog Days of Summer
Merci beaucoup. You know things are bad when you’re saying “thanks” when it finally comes time for lights out. Arguably the most violent, possibly the most demented, Mercy has been many things – from alligator-hunter to outlaw enforcer – but his favorite title is that of husband. He loves being his girl’s “darling monster,” and he loves being “Daddy.” A great big mess of contradictions, Heathcliff-inspired Mercy remains a personal favorite, who is never less than a joy to write.
My abiding love of Anne Rice books is to blame for my fascination with New Orleans. Most of Rice’s vampires and witches hail from the Garden District, but when I decided to write a New Orleans-based character, I wanted to explore the swamps and the Cajun culture of the city, and I had the best time researching! I even spent some time on a Swamp People chat board to find out the preferred gun for gator hunting. The flashback scenes in Fearless in which Mercy is hunting with his father are some of my very favorite in the book. The danger and the immediacy of gator hunting speaks to an essential, basic masculinity. And then you contrast that with a high emotional sensitivity, a good-hearted sweetness, and a thirst for art, and you’ve got Felix Lécuyer down to his bare bones. Every part of Mercy can be traced back to the swamp, to the gators, and his larger-than-life father, and mystic grandmother, and the things that happened to him when he was young.
What I love about Mercy is that he isn’t a character who’s growing as the story progresses – like Aidan, for example. Mercy doesn’t need to figure out who he is or what he wants; he’d always known those things. Instead, it’s a matter of allowing himself to fight for what he wants. He loves who he loves, hates who he hates, and he isn’t susceptible to remorse – except when he thinks he’s hurt his Ava, in which case he then hates himself.
It’s common to see violent tough-guy characters treat their love interests as objects and property. Slurs get thrown around; women are dominated and put in their place. That dynamic bores, and, I’ll be honest, offends me. It’s something that’s been done to death, and I like seeing male characters with the emotional intelligence to know their enemies from their wives, you know? I like the idea of a big man who knows he’s strong and doesn’t need to prove it to his girl. I like to see a big man respect and love his girl, and treat her with as much gentleness as she wants or needs. A man who’s proud of her strength, rather than her appearance.
I love that Mercy is a character of extremes. He’s both the most violent, and the most understanding. I love that he can actually find enjoyment in using his physical strength for the club, and then dote on his little family. He can treasure his wife and children, be a good husband and a good dad, helps in the kitchen, encourages Ava’s dreams, and then doesn’t think twice when he needs to kneecap someone. It’s an interesting juxtaposition: the lovable gentle giant with the full-on monster. I couldn’t imagine him being romantically involved with someone who didn’t know and understand both sides of him completely…and who accepts both sides completely. He’s extreme, and so is his old lady, in a lot of ways – we’ll get to that tomorrow!
Not the Leader of the Pack
I always argue the case that Mercy isn’t an alpha male, because he is completely content to take orders. He doesn’t have dreams of the president’s chair, and is happy to serve the club in the ways they need him. Likewise, he doesn’t want to take control of his wife. Mercy’s driving need is family. He wants and needs to be a part of a family, to be loved and have the chance to love in return. The club filled the hole his blood family left behind, and now he has a new blood family with Ava. He’s a simple guy, and he’s pretty damn happy these days.