Billionaire, Genius, Outcast

January 28, 2016




We are delighted to welcome author Leonardo Wildto Omnimystery News today. 

Leonardo starts out his new Paradigm Shift series of thrillers with The Galapagos Agenda (Suspense Publishing; November 2015 ebook format) and we asked him to tell us more about the lead character. He titles his guest post for us today, "Billionaire, Genius, Outcast".


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When I came up with my idea to write Paradigm Shift Thrillers, I needed a character that would be interesting, complex, iconoclastic, capable of realistically tackling "big topics." Enter Maximiliano Alexander Villalobos, known as Max Villalobos, nicknamed "Mad Max," the son of a psychopathic billionaire, Roy Villalobos, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

It wasn't easy to figure Max out.

I didn't want him to be one of those ultra-strong characters who, like Jack Reacher or James Bond, will go through an entire series without changing. Also, Max had to be larger than life, yet also struggle to find the right path.

Someone who wants to achieve something important in his life, something with the potential to change the world.

Someone willing to stand up to powerful people like his father, Roy, the owner of Villalobos Lines, one of the most powerful international corporate entities.

Someone likable … to a very broad audience.

The topics planned out for my Paradigm Shift Thriller series are not limited to a narrow group of potential followers, but rather — and ideally — involve the widest range of people from all walks of life. In marketing terms, though, this is a contradiction since "know your audience" actually means "limit your audience" or "know your target."

And targets, by definition, are usually narrow.

I must confess. I struggled with Max's character.

Until one day — after going through yet another draft following the advice from an agent who was kind enough to give me feedback even though she'd rejected to take me on as a client — it hit me.

Max, in order to be able to do what the series expected of him, had to be a billionaire, a genius, and an outcast.

Max the billionaire

A character who is meant to be complex in nature needs to have inner struggles, even a degree of confusion. Max has experienced the life of a billionaire because of who his father is, yet he realizes that all that money will not make him happy. He didn't earn it, which in itself puts him in debt with his father, who considers him as a parasite.

Yet Max wishes to make it big himself, to use his triadic analysis system, something he's been working on since very young, to not only become economically independent, but to prove to his father and to himself — to the world, really — that his reputation as just a tycoon's parasitic son is a stereotype. (In one of my early drafts, he was even seen as a womanizer and an alcoholic, which he wasn't — not a very good introduction card, I was told, but hey, look at James Bond!)

Max realizes that the super wealth he's been exposed to, created an imbalance within him, an imbalance that, paradoxically, has enabled him to think differently, aiding him in the uncovering of an underlying pattern to existence at large, which he plans to use to lead the world into a better place.

Characteristically, though, it is something his father — like many powerful people without conscience — wants to take control of to exploit for himself.

Super wealth, the kind Max has been brought up with, allows one to make one's dreams a reality — or turn them into nightmares for humanity. Max wants to turn the tables around.

Max the genius and outcast

From The Galapagos Agenda …

  "What was the word your private tutors used for you? Gifted … I believe that's what they called you. You always thought yourself better than the rest of them, me included, didn't you?"
  Ouch. A punch below the belt. My mother had made sure to let me know that gifted wasn't something to be carried around like a crown of gold, rather as a burden fraught with responsibility. When I turned twelve, I'd had my share of home-tutoring and my father decided to try traditional schooling again, which turned into a fiasco. I'd managed less than a term in Gordonstoun School before I was kicked out, forcing my father to hire private tutors instead. Where my ass-kissing stepbrother excelled, I'd failed. I just couldn't stand teachers' know-it-all attitudes, or be forced to sit for hours on end listening to their drivel. Thus I'd gained a reputation of not only being a rich man's son, but a "little shit too smart for his own good" spat out with derision in a single word: Gifted!

Too smart for his own good is not something that makes Max likable to many around him. This turns him into an outcast and forces him to see the world in a different way. In fact, it makes Max feel not quite part of the world, enabling him to look at it from a distance, to question what he sees, to not take things at face value.

So, in spite of being a billionaire by default, being an outcast is a trait that many people can relate to.

And a genius is not someone who is necessarily well-balanced.

Max, thus, turns out to be a complex personality with a peculiar way to look at the world, someone capable of seeing things normal mortals probably can't, or if they do, won't really think much about or take it further.

This turned Max into a bit of a loner, believing he is abnormal and, because of his father's wealth, suspects ulterior motives of anybody trying to get close to him.

Someone torn between the need to find a balanced life, yet always questioning every social relationship that might give him that balance he so craves.

In The Galapagos Agenda, just when he thinks he's found the one — Susy Goodman — who might actually be the right woman for him, she is killed, blown up, and soon after Max finds that he's become the number one suspect.

And that is just the beginning of his troubles as he enters a journey of discovery about the world he's been living in, a world of cut-throat business and lies — his mistrust of people again awakened when he finds out that Susy Goodman was an MI-5 agent on a mission to infiltrate his father … through him.

When Max digs deeper into the underlying motives, he realizes that something vastly more dark and evil has nestled itself within humanity: psychopaths in high places who are shaping the world to suit their craving for power.

And his father, clearly, is one of them.

Two little secrets

In The Galapagos Agenda, which is the first installment in the series of Paradigm Shift Thrillers, Max gets propelled into a world he belonged to but never was a part of, and now must choose.

Here I'll let you in on two little secrets.

I've been researching writing for years. It's a passion of mine. In fact, I'm working on four books on the craft, trying to discover how it all works. A bit like Max would. Using an analysis system that I have been working on for nearly thirty years ("Max's Secret Invention").

The introduction to this analysis system will be published, in Spanish, in the coming months, Ecuador's Central University yearly magazine, going to press as I write these lines. My analysis method allowed me to resolve the mystery (I think) of how these destructive and self-destructive people, the Hitlers of the world, have managed to appear again and again throughout history, no matter how bad our experiences with them have been. (One of Max's discoveries in The Galapagos Agenda.)

My analysis method also gave me an insight into Blake Snyder's (1957-2009) film categories presented in Save The Cat! as well as two more books on screenwriting.

Blake was considered one of Hollywood's most successful screenwriters. In an email exchange with him, back in 2007, I ran his film categories through my analysis system and realized what he had actually done.

Basically, at the core of each of his film categories lies an overarching conflict, the nature of which I "decoded," as it were, and turned into what I now call "High Concept Conflict" (in July 2015 I gave a class during that year's ThrillerFest under that title), thanking Blake Snyder, of course. What does this have to do with Max and his struggles in The Galapagos Agenda?

Well, Max's conflict is that of character's individuality vs. social dependence, that of an individual vs. an institution, what Blake Snyder called the "Institutionalized" category.

I wrote to Blake that in this type of story, "The rules that bind the individuals together cannot be applied individually." It is a type of story where "When you fight the world, you are in fact fighting your own limitations to be a part of it."

Aren't we all facing this type of dilemma in one way or another?

Max, certainly, is.

He can not help but question the world's institutions because he's an iconoclast, someone bound to question everything most people take for granted or are unwilling to question further.

Like, "Who governs us?"

Well, find out in The Galapagos Agenda.

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Leonardo Wild is currently the CEO and co-owner of a company dedicated to environmental solutions. He has travelled extensively: sailed across the Atlantic and the Pacific — was the skipper of a million-dollar yacht at the age of 24 in New Zealand and in 1989 survived a cyclone Harry, a Category 4. He walked three times over the Andes into the Amazon jungle with Native Indians, took part in gold survey expeditions in Ecuador's rain forests, cycled across South America, built wooden houses, advised Ecuador's Central Bank on currency design; these, and many other experiences, are invariably being weaved into his writing.

For more information about the author, please visit his website and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook andTwitter.

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The Galapagos Agenda by Leonardo Wild

A Paradigm Shift Thriller

Publisher: Suspense Publishing


Max Villalobos is the gifted son of a corporate tycoon. His dream is to make it on his own, even if that means going against his powerful father who has far different plans when it comes to Max's future.

In order to prove who's "boss" the infamous billionaire, Roy Villalobos, stages Max's own kidnapping using their personal Chief of Security. The plan backfires with a near escape, and an explosion that kills Max's girlfriend, turning the tables on Max's original plans.

With the cloud of murder hanging over his head, Roy Villalobos offers to sort things out for Max, suggesting his son disappear until the air clears. But when Max arrives aboard the Galapagos Treasure on his way to the Cook Islands, he discovers that not only has he become Suspect #1, but his murdered beloved just happened to be an undercover MI-5 agent on a mission to infiltrate the family and investigate Max's father for multiple crimes.

Yet the biggest crime of all is about to occur …

Three Latin American political powerhouses have arranged a secret meeting to take place aboard the Galapagos Treasure. Working on a potential transfer of the Galapagos Islands into the hands of the U.S., their intention is to reset the military balance in case of a future confrontation with China. However, Roy Villalobos's 'World War' is good for business, and provoking a conflict between two dominant nations is just what Roy has in mind to increase his wealth and reach the epitome of power.

Max needs to figure out how to clear his name of a crime he didn't commit, while uncovering what part he actually has been set up to play in this game of corrupt economic interests. As the fly is to the spider, Max must extricate himself from this web of international intrigue, where murder isn't personal and only the fittest — most ruthless — will survive.

 The Galapagos Agenda by Leonardo Wild

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