Great topic as usual here at Criminal Minds - because the fact of the matter is this question goes to the heart of most every protagonist. But not always in ways they themselves know.
In the case of Hawker the protagonist from Black Rain, Black Sun and coming this December or January: The Eden Prophecy. He is the proverbial lost soul. Partly because at the time of my initial draft I felt like that, partly because I wanted a character who had done as much wrong in his past as he'd done right and was trying to work himself back to a place where he felt... well anything really.
Hawker once worked for the CIA - I agree nothing too original there (I swear my next hero is going to be a former airport shuttle bus driver who just happens to know about spy craft and firearms - hey, they have a lot of down time) (but I digress) -
Working in Africa over a decade ago, Hawker was part of a team fighting to stir up resistance against the leader of that country - a brutal, communist named Jonas Savimbi. After making fast friends with several smaller non-aligned tribesmen. Hawker got them to back the opposition as ordered, only to have a deal struck at a higher pay grade than his, end up cutting these tribes out.
Without the weapons promised by the CIA the tribes, whom the CIA had asked Hawker to stir up would now be sitting ducks and end up getting massacred. So Hawker violated the order and armed the tribes anyway - until the CIA cut him off and ordered him home. He refused and did what he could to beg, borrow or steal enough hardware to let the tribes defend themselves. He was caught, shot and left for dead, while the Angolan army slaughtered the tribes as a message to all others who might oppose them.
All sides assumed Hawker was dead, but he survived, and a year later began exacting revenge on those he felt had betrayed him. He then went on the run as a mercenary and a sort of lost soul.
Till this day he struggles with the decisions he made. He can't find one thing right about any of them. The tribesmen he considered friends were murdered along with their families. His career and life ruined. And for what, years after nothing had changed in Angola.
Hawker doubts himself, though his skills are considerable. He downplays his own value, even when he triumphs. He doesn't trust anyone, though in the books he is forced into trusting with mixed results. All of these things combine to give him a long way to go. I like that.
I like when he fails and makes mistakes and is forced out of his comfort zone. I think it makes him reachable even though he's this tough guy - pseudo, super hero. He has regrets. He has bad memories, he has fears that somehow he'll let his friends down or be unable to save them. And its those things that drive him on .
Hopefully the readers find that as interesting as I do.
As the song says: "It's his own damn fault.
Thanks for stopping by.