I promised yesterday that I'd talk more about Joe. Some of you are very happy. (You know who you are.) Most of you are women, but not all. Joe's a man's man, and my male fans like him, too. Or, as I like to say, women want to marry Joe. Men want to be Joe.
Joe travels a tremendous story arc in the books, because he has so much to do and learn and be when we first meet him in Artifacts. He is only 25, after all. He shows up on Faye's island, homeless, with nothing to his name but a ratty johnboat and some camping gear and his clothes. A lack of money or possessions isn't really a problem for Joe, as long as he has a place to lay his head. He's got the equivalent of a Ph.D. in ancient weapons, just because flintknapping settles his mind. When he left home, he went out searching for someone to teach him how to do flintknap well, and he truly does. Joe can tell the weather by the stirrings of the animals in the bushes. He can catch fish when they're not biting. When Joe plants cucumbers, you'd better to be ready to make a bunch of pickles. Once he's settled on Faye's property, he pays her very well in food he's shot or caught or grown.
His parents weren't really into their Creek heritage, so they didn't teach it to Joe. They loved him dearly and taught him to fish and hunt, but they mistook learning disabilities the size of boulders for mental slowness, so they didn't teach him much else. He has a mystical soul, so he sought out people who could teach him the old ways, and he's cobbled together his own approach to the spiritual side of life that works for him. When Faye is rumpled in her mind because she can't force the world to spin as she wishes, Joe knows how to explain things to her. He knows that the world will spin and the hurricane will howl, whether we like it or not. So we might as well get on with living.
I created Joe to be an absolutely inappropriate romantic partner for Faye. I wanted her to have one true friend. She had to have a friend, because she lives alone on her island, and I can't write books about someone wandering through the palm trees talking to herself. He's nine years younger. He's uneducated and unemployed and, until she finds tutors for him that understand learning disabilities, barely literate.
Two hundred years ago, Joe would have been a man among men, but in the 21st century, he can't quite master the workings of an ATM. Faye saves Joe from a world he doesn't understand. What she doesn't understand, and what I didn't understand when I created them, is that, in the end, Joe saves her, too.