When I was writing Restless Spirits and the time came to introduce the character of Joe Bentley, the ghost of an early 20th century handyman who goes from antagonist to romantic interest over the course of the book, before he even had a name, he showed up fully formed looking and sounding an awful lot like a certain captain of a certain Firefly-class cargo spaceship.
While Nathan Fillion was perfect casting for this role, I feared modeling Joe on Mal Reynolds was a little too specific, so I did my best to tone down his Mal-ness. It’s still there in the looks, voice and mannerisms (in my head, at least), but really, that’s where the similarities end.
Joe has a, shall we say, more sharply defined sense of morality than Cap’n Tightpants, for one thing. He’s also more patient and longsuffering. But for all of that, Joe Bentley is no saint. He’s headstrong and full of snark, and when it comes to those he cares about he can be protective to a fault. And he has some old-fashioned notions of chivalry and gentility that don’t always sit too well with a twenty-first century gal like Ron Wilson.
Of course, Joe finds Ron and her stubborn girl power equally frustrating, but he gradually comes to respect and admire her unwavering strength and determination. It’s fun to watch the transformation as the sparks flying between these two turn from irritation to attraction, and in later books to watch how their relationship matures as they continue to sharpen each other.