Stemp Then And Now

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In Book 2, THE SPY IS CAST, what did you identify as Stemp’s key characteristics?  Did that change by the end of the book?  How has Stemp’s personality and life experience shaped the direction of the story throughout the series? How has your opinion of him changed as you progressed through the series?

7 thoughts on “Stemp Then And Now

  1. Being honest I think I hated Stemp at the start, but in later books he is looking out for our girl and trusting her. Mind as much as he didn’t seem to care for her at the start he trusted her.

    As the books went on this character developed, he isn’t described as a snake as much, its almost like you decided he was going to be better than that

    I not so much love love him but I do love the character of Stemp

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  2. Ahhh Charles…. first impressions: Stick up his ass, pain in the butt, know it all!

    Yes… didn’t like him much, but then, neither did Aydan….so who can blame us, right?

    By the end of the book I thought of him as a “necessary evil”. But as the books have progressed I see him more as being a product of his parents careful manipulation, which he “parents” all his employees in a similar fashion. He is still a “rebel” towards his parents because he doesn’t see the ideals he was taught in his teachers. If only they would come clean to one another!!!!!! He is very much his parents son – he just hides his good heart behind his overly analytical mind. After all, only order and structure can get him results, not the hippy-dippy lifestyle of his parents!!!!! 😉

    (Oh you clever, clever girl!!!! I just love your writing!!!!!)

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  3. Aydan first had her hackles raised by Charles Stemp and I would believe she probably learned the hard way to pay attention to first impressions. If they prove to be incorrect, fine. At least you are on alert and no harm occurred from being neither too trusting nor mistrusting. I think her mistrust was well-founded. Stemp has had to cut himself off from normal collegial relationships with those under his leadership, in case they go rogue or if there is some other reason he finds to put them in harm’s way or if he must take them out altogether.

    I love the irony of Stemp having hippy parents who are secretly spies too, and that neither party has figured out how similar each other’s lives really are. I’m not sure a person like Stemp would become what he has become out of rebellion alone, especially with the parents secretly grooming him to step into their roles as they retire.

    I think we are more like our families than we care to admit. One may rebel for a while, but my experience has shown me that rebels eventually return to a more moderate set of ideals espoused by their families, but on their own terms as they find their way into adulthood. In my family, 5 out of 7 kids have somewhat similar conservative religious and political ideals as our parents, and two do not. We two that have not fallen in line politically and in terms of spirituality or religion, actually hold similar ideals in many ways, just not in the most obvious ways. We just try to change the subject whenever the contentious themes arise. Wish me and my brother luck- we just started a few weeks of a mini-reunion surrounding a family wedding and a meeting of the new significant other.

    I don’t know what to make of the closer ties that have developed between Aydan and Stemp. If it were me in that situation, I’d never want to know any of Stemp’s personal secrets- Aydan is already in too deep, and knowing stuff in her line of work is dangerous.

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  4. Stemp then? Stuffed shirt, over-strict because of his new-boss insecurity, and paranoia from the magnitude of his new responsibilities. A hardcore jerk. Seriously competent without a doubt, but a jerk.

    Stemp now? It’s been an education watching Diane develop Stemp from who he was at first into who he is now, and not just Stemp. Every long-term character, in fact, has grown and learned better how to deal with each other, for that matter. Even Brock is showing a thin glimpse of salvagability. (That means I wanted to strangle him a little less at the end of Book 11 than I did at the beginning.)

    Now it’s fun to see that Aydan has found the recipe for getting along with Reggie Chow. John and Arnie obviously disliked and apparently even actively avoided Chow’s hot-tempered, antagonistic rudeness.

    An aside about Chow: I know where the attitude comes from and what causes it, so I don’t blame Chow in the least…but he’ll be less ‘crippled’ when he comes to terms with being able to relate in a more ‘neutral’ manner to others. Few people can meet a Reggie Chow for the first time and handle the situation perfectly. Nobody knows that better than the Reggie Chows of the world, after all. A little bit of ‘chill’ pays dividends. Jackasses get treated like jackasses, one way or another, regardless. True, nobody can be Mother Teresa all day, every day, but, well, you get it.

    Aydan barks back at him and takes no crap, even after a sort of rocky start with him. That got her some slack early on, and her exhausted recital of the contents of her pheromone samples caused jaws to drop. She’s certainly established her creds with him and his crew, that’s for sure. Now I get a little vibe that he’s hooking her up with all the cool stuff because because he likes her…as well as because it’s beneficial to the department, etc., etc.

    John’s not the guy for Aydan, that much is clear. Arnie is softening a bit as he gradually gets past a few of his own demons, but I don’t see him as ever becoming plausibly house-broken, so to speak. His affection for Aydan is clear, but with no need to commit, he won’t ever have to. And the first time he feels pressured to commit, he’ll withdraw.

    Aydan and Reggie Chow? Yep, I’ll be watching this relationship closely…for more glimpses into the back rooms if nothing else. 🙂

    I like where this story line seems to be going. I really do.

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  5. To be honest, I’ve had sympathy for Stemp right from the start, even when Aydan hated him. The poor guy has to bring a reluctant Department up to speed after mismanagement that caused the kind of security breaches that brought Aydan into the mix in the first place; then he has to deal with Aydan’s pig-headed stubbornness; and finally he realizes he’s stuck managing her for the long term, which is about as much fun as herding rattlesnakes. And all the while he has to deal with all the other agents who resent his rigid management style, plus all the daily emergencies of running a clandestine department, plus dealing with the inevitable chain of command who constantly question his effectiveness. That’s enough to make anybody more than a little prickly.

    Then when I found out his wife and child are on the other side of the world and he can’t even have a picture of them, he can’t afford to make friends with any of his co-workers, and he’s estranged from his parents, I was firmly on his side even though Aydan hadn’t quite gotten there yet. What a shitty life. And yet, he doesn’t get any sympathy because he can’t afford to show anyone his softer side.

    The irony of the situation is that without Aydan he could never have revealed the human being behind the robot, so his biggest irritant is also his salvation. Building on that kind of dynamic is my favourite part of writing! 😉

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  6. Stemp reminds me of Kiefer Sutherland’s character in Flashback. FBI Agent John Buckner, aka Free, is also the child of hippies. Someone says to him something like, “I knew you’d turn out bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad!”—just like Stemp. I love that movie (from 1990, no idea where the time went).

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