--Josup, who prefers to go by “Joe,” is a quiet, shy person, a nerdy type in temperament. He is naturally likeable and has no known enemies. But he doesn’t have a lot of friends, either; he tends to keep to himself.So why did he walk away from his children, leaving them to fend for themselves?
--He is unknowable to most people, although his wife Godwyna has figured him out pretty well (at least on a surface level) and early on in their marriage. But even she does not know everything about him or his deepest thoughts. No one knows this, but, at 10, he was sexually abused by a family friend, a well-respected figure in the community where he grew up. When he told his parents, they refused to believe him, beginning his alienation from them and the eventual shedding of the family name (from Netta to Quinella). He is obsessed with facing his abuser and forcing him to own up to his wrong doing.
--As a young person (pre-teen), he was slightly overweight and wore nerdy clothes and glasses. He tended to fly under the radar and was not bullied as much as one might have expected.
--He is very bright and, as a kid, often bypassed bullying by doing homework for dumb jocks wanting to stay on the football and basketball teams. At first, he did the work for free, but he quickly figured out that they needed his skills more than he needed to be safe. At 15, he created a simple computer game, similar to Pac-Man, which he played on his school’s Apple III and distributed to peers in his computer club. (Later, one of his peers stole the program and sold it to a major computer game company, making millions. Joe never pursued the matter and actually forgave the guy, his attitude being, “I can make more of that where it came from,” and so he did).
--He’s very sensitive and feels tremendous guilt for leaving his girls, but, on some level, he senses that they will be okay. (In addition to his goodbye note, he had left a rather long list of dos and don’ts, most of which struck Quinelle as painfully obvious, such as “Don’t let strangers in the house.”). In another life, he would have settled down with his family, made lots of money, and died a rich old man with doting grown children and grandchildren on his knee.
--As the gaming community grew, so did Joe’s skills in creating computer games, eventually working for one of the major gaming companies. By the time Godwyna left, he had quit his job and was free-lancing, having set up his own internet business. In 1997, after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Joe invested in a significant number of Apple stock (10,000 shares) at less than $22.00 per share. In 2007, he started working on apps for the then-new iPhone, which he sold to Apple for substantial money (He had abandoned the girls by then, but he would sneak money into their account. Only Quinelle noticed this, given that she controlled the accounts and has never said anything to Qeah). He has also created some other lucrative internet projects. At the time he left his girls, he was free-lancing and making fantastic money, which is why he could leave behind a large bank account and pay off the mortgage in full (which he did in 2005, one year after leaving). Then in late 2007, Joe abruptly stopped depositing money.
Quinelle assumes that he has left to search for Godwyna, but nothing could be further from the truth; he had long ago accepted Godwyna’s absence and no longer feels anything for her.
He has left to search for his abuser. After much soul-searching, he decided he must find his abuser or his abuser’s grave, to confront, in person, his abuser and his (Joe’s) own demons. When he wrote in his note to Quinelle that he was planning to return, he was not lying. However, it took three years to find his abuser. And when Joe finally confronted him (by that time an old man), the man refused to apologize and actually denied having done the act. Joe went out of control and pummeled him with his fists. The man didn’t die, but became incapacitated for a long time, so Joe ended up in prison, which explains why, in 2007, the money stopped.
--He’s the kind of man who grows more handsome as he grows older. In fact, he’s a dark complected man with black hair and olive eyes, and now tall and slim. He dresses much better than he did as a youngster, but still casual. Now that he has grown into his body, he wears just about anything well.(NOTE: Qeah takes after him in just about every way, including his swarthy complexion and olive eyes. Like him, she will grow into her body, becoming a tall and graceful girl, whereas Quinelle is light-complected, with red hair and blue eyes. She has been pretty from day one and exudes the confidence of one who has always enjoyed good looks).
--However, while women gravitate toward him, he’s not a ladies’ man and while married to Godwyna was totally faithful to her. In fact, he was totally devastated when he discovered she was cheating on him.
Again, I want to stress that these are notes, and much of this may not end up in the actual novel. In fact, the girls are probably not going to find out why their father beat someone up.
They will find out that Joe is in prison, but he will clam up, and the girls will be dumbfounded.
I think it's important that authors have a good back story in mind from which to draw character motivations.