First of all, everyone is broken in some way. I don’t mean that they are not fully functional in society, or depraved villains. I mean that everyone has some rough edges, some are just rougher than others. We have all suffered heartbreak, loss, and failure in our lives, otherwise we would not be human.
The broken people I write about are the ones who have decided to take actions that they believe benefit themselves and society at large. I think that no one could argue that a rapist or drug kingpin are great assets to society.
My first character, Lucena Burning, was destined for a normal life and would have likely been a college graduate and business leader. Her parents were not financially successful, but were resourceful and intelligent. Her mother was self-reliant and adaptable to practically any situation. Moving to a remote place in a very rural state, West Virginia, she quickly became right at home with a garden and a flock of chickens. Her father had left West Virginia by joining the military. By all accounts, Lucena would have grown up travelling and learning first-hand about different cultures and customs. But, as you know, that was not what happened.
While travelling from West Virginia to Florida to meet her father returning from deployment, there was a car wreck that left her mother dead and Lucena living among feral children in the pine forests of northern Florida. She might have been found, but in a cruel twist, her father was killed in action at the same time as her mother died in the car accident. Lucena was not found, because she had been thrown clear of the crash and was lodged, unconscious, in a tree.
Eventually, the group of children were found and distributed into the social services network. This resulted in Lucena, and the other children, being raised by strangers. Not that these people were unkind, but because they did not understand that the children of the pines were family, and that family had been ripped from them. In the confusion, Lucena never learned to love, and that led her into an abusive relationship. Her boyfriend took over her life and soon began exploiting her, sexually. When she balked, he made it clear that she would either comply, or die a horrible death, so she went along. Until she found a way to end it, and then hunt down the other men who had joined in on the abuse.
Lucena is a composite of women that I met working in the medical field. I was first a volunteer at a local hospital, then a nursing assistant for a couple of years. From there, I was a medic in the army, where I met a long string of people who would show up for morning sick call with the physical and mental wounds from the night before. By this time, the place where I was stationed had a substantial female population. Eventually, I wound up working in a very busy emergency room and saw many of the things that Lucena would eventually use to dispatch her targets.