Character Thinky-Thoughts and Casting Call: Dr. Nathaniel Harada, forensic pathologist

Our Protagonist: Dr. Nathaniel Harada, California transplant, forensic pathologist for the Greater Philadelphia and Surrounding Areas County Medical Examiner’s Office.

* Thirdish generation Japanese-American, mostly raised in the United States. Dad is a management type with some bigass multinational entertainment corporations that is most emphatically not Sony, no sir, no ree. Mom was herself a second gen Japanese-American who met Dad while he was living/working in California for the first time; died when he was very young, after the family had moved back to Japan. Stepmom was met by Dad at work. Half-sister is a sophomore in college, where she’s studying programming for computer games. Terrifyingly badass octogenarian Shinto priest maternal grandfather. Gets along well with family — they’re scattered all over the place due to career and schooling reasons not family angst and woe. Mom died suddenly when Nate was no older than four, and Dad transferred back to the States so Nate could be closer to his mother’s family; Dad remarried when Nate was fourteen, and he was cool with that because Dad was sad and lonely. Wildly overprotective oflittle sister due to huge, fifteen year age gap between them. Nate himself is named after his mother’s grandfather, who died the year he was born. Thirty-five — because, again, writing what you know.

* Went into medicine as a direct result of Mom’s unexplained death. Also because he is Blessed With Suck: he is sometimes afflicted with blindingly painful visions of how random people he meets — or even just has casual contact with — are going to die. Note: Does not and cannot See or Speak With Dead People. That would make his job too easy. Visions are an involuntary and uncontrollable post-traumatic reaction to an otherwise imperceptible stressor/provocation not a super-power. Visions were much more common/frequent as a child/adolescent and less frequent/much more painful as an adult, effectively presenting as a debilitating migraine with visual/auditory hallucination of the actual death-sight. Consequently, he finds dealing with people who are already dead rather preferable to dealing with the living, who can theoretically punch him in the brain with their fatal myocardial episodes and propensity for driving drunk at any random lunch date.


Structural-rationalist and pragmatic, but still able to accept there are things in the world whose existence will not yield to pure reason.

Dr. Nathaniel Harada observes/averts/subverts the following:

Asexual/Celibate Hero: One of the things your humble authoress finds most irritating about the urban fantasy/horror genre is the ease with which it devolves from a story about creepy stuff gradually consuming a person’s life to soft-core porn about how many supernatural entities want to get into the protagonist’s pants/how many supernatural entities the protagonist is cheerfully permitting into their pants. Yes, Laurell K. Hamilton, I am looking at you in specific but the tendency to represent “sex positivity” with a “will fuck anything that moves” attitude attached to the protagonist is generally becoming a genetic characteristic of the whole genre. I don’t like that, so I’m not going to use it.

Nate is functionally asexual: he’s not totally devoid of romantic interest in others/completely undesirous of emotional contact, but he also doesn’t think with the little head much. Or at all. He’s the sort who can go for months on end without thinking about, wanting, or missing sex at all, and attempting to manipulate him using appeals to lust will generally just fail utterly. The nature of his Blessed With Suck makes it difficult for him to risk connecting emotionally with others and his last real relationship was back during his residency, it ended in spectacular badness, and he hasn’t felt compelled to seek out another, much to the consternation of his little sister and his parents, who are desperately afraid that he’s going to become a crazy cat person who spends all his time with corpses. (Note: Nate does not yet own a cat.)

Workaholic:…To “married to the job” levels. Displaces a good bit of the emotional involvement he’d otherwise give to a Significant Other into his work, particularly when it comes to engaging with grieving relatives.

Blessed With Suck/Weirdness Magnet: Two tropes I also want to play a bit with due in part to the way they’re usually treated in UF/H fiction. For the most part, being Blessed With Suck is usually a precursor to the realization of massive personal power. In Nate, it’s the post-traumatic after-effects of an attack on his person that occurred before he was old enough to form permanent memory engrams but not permanent scars in his mind and soul. It’s not a disability superpower — the effects of the visions themselves are never anything other than painful and frequently debilitating — and their “usefulness” is severely truncated by the fact that telling someone you’ve just laid eyes on that they’re going to die and how it’s going to happen is more productive of being suspended from duty pending a mandatory psych evaluation than gratitude or actually achieving any life-saving. It is, in no way, shape, or form an indicator of unsuspected supernatural heritage that will pop out at the eleventh hour any more than an appendectomy scar would be. Adds the double-plus effect of being Weirdness Attractant to many things more than capable of biting his head off and/or devouring his soul as a light snack. Nate gets to cope with these things while being basically a Muggle with a Come Eat Me I’m Delicious sign strapped to his head and a theoretical protector whose interest in him straddles the line between professional and predatory.

(The scar functions as a psychic beacon that resonates on the same frequency as the primal fear of death, forging temporary, blindingly painful links with those whose deaths are close — and attracting beings who feed on fear and pain. Like Special Agent Delgado.)

Deadpan Snarker: INTJ. Also: I am temperamentally incapable of writing a character who isn’t the slightest trace of a wiseass.

Played in the movie HBO Original Series by Jun Matsumoto:


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