The problem with having a true everyman protagonist is finding plausible reasons to get them into trouble on a regular basis while equipping them the skills to get out of it. That’s why most adventure story heroes are former military, law enforcement or some kind of ninja trying to leave that life behind.
One exception I’ve always liked is Jack DuBrul’s geologist Philip Mercer. Geologists also go to dangerous places on the regular. Diamond mines, rare earth deposits and other raw materials aren’t always in the poshest locales. This has worked across several books. Mercer was even once hired to examine a geological anomaly in Greenland, which was naturally an abandoned Nazi base filled with things that could end the world. It all made perfect sense.
So, in the vein of DuBrul’s geologist, I’ve created a character that is not a man with a dangerous past but nonetheless finds himself in dangerous places entangled with dangerous people.
Meet Carter Rehnquist, aromachologist.
Carter’s job demands travel. Scent makers and bathroom deodorization companies contract his services and send him all over the world to smell exotic locales and make scents that smell like those places. Rehnquist is the unsung hero of aromachology. He is the man behind Hawaiian Luau, Tahitian Dreamscape and Rikki Tiki’s Sneaky Pineapple Party. (Rehnquist just does the scent work. Marketing departments do the naming.) His legacy is everywhere. If you’re ever taken a dump at an Olive Garden, you’ve smelled his work.
However, he doesn’t just travel the world and smell places for money and fame. Rehnquist is on the hunt for the world’s undiscovered scents. This personal quest drives him deeper into jungles, caverns and the oceans than most are willing to go. (It’s not easy to smell underwater, but he’s just that good!) This quest often puts him in danger’s path. He is confronted and pursued by warlords, terrorists and, naturally, his nemesis, Arend De Jong, an evil aromachologist who got into the game for the money instead of the smelling of things. De Jong sits as the CEO of Zeergeur, a global scent conglomerate that will stop at nothing to own the next big odor.
To combat these threats, Rehnquist calls upon his considerable martial arts and parkour skills. He was driven to these pursuits out of necessity at a young age because if you go around smelling things, you’re going to get your ass kicked.
Conflict shapes a man. Both external and internal. Every hero needs a personal struggle and Carter is no different. Rehnquist wages a secret war against a rare form of anosmia after losing his sense of smell in a freak aerosol accident. He can smell nothing that he has smelled before. Perhaps this is what drives him to take the perilous path to find “all things unsmelled and smell them.” Heroically, he doesn’t allow the anosmia to define him. Nor has it affected his work. Carter is so naturally talented that he is still able to create award-winning fragrances with ease. Carter Rehnquist is basically the Ludwig van Beethoven of smelling things.
The possibilities for adventure are endless and I’m sure we will learn much more about the character is his first novel, A Nose for Trouble. I hope you like it.
Until then, as Carter would say, Smell You Later.