Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Measure of a Hero

Many years ago (more than I care to recall), a writing teacher told me one thing I still remember to this day: You measure your heroes by the villains they face.

I would modify that statement slightly. I believe you measure your heroes and heroines by the challenges they face. After all, every villain is a challenge, but not every challenge is a villain.

Look at the villains on kids’ TV. Most of these villains are paper tigers, defeated relatively easily. It’s a move made to make the shows more comfortable for kids (or, possibly, their parents.) But, if the villain is a doofus, then you don’t need much of a hero to defeat him. Did anybody ever really feel Gargamel was much of a threat to the Smurfs? And, really, how heroic did the Smurfs have to be as a result?

 One of the reasons I like writing fantasy or science fiction stories that start in our contemporary world is because they present my heroes and heroines with great challenges. If you expect to simply live a normal life, it’s a huge challenge to deal with suddenly having some aspect of yourself stolen by magic, or learning that your daughter has played a game with cursed dice that’s affected both her and her sister. How does one cope with having not just their life, but their understanding of how the world works, turned upside-down?

Some of my favorite moments in my upcoming books from Midnight Frost Books, Eve’s Thieves and A Game With Conjured Dice, involve characters who are trying to cope, as well as hold things together for those they care about.

In Eve’s Thieves, it’s Peri Walker, who organized the efforts to take down the title organization. She holds it together with difficulty at times, to the point where her efforts are a strength at times, and a weakness at others.

In A Game With Conjured Dice, one of those characters is Jennifer, the mother of Lindsay and Mia, who has to cope with an impossible situation with no warning, and who then sees the possibilities in it. Jennifer’s handling of things is far from perfect, as she both admonishes against using the dice and uses them herself. She is, after all, human. But it is her choices that ultimately guide the course of the story.

Another is Hezekiah, who makes a series of choices that set the book in motion as he tries to cope with a horror visited upon his family. Is Hezekiah a hero, a villain, or something in between? I know what I think, but his situation is one every reader should consider on their own. I think all three can be correct answers, depending on your point of view.

Eve’s Thieves is set for release Nov. 20, 2013. A Game With Conjured Dice is scheduled to come out in 2014. I think you’ll enjoy them.

And, if you’re a fellow writer, I hope you’ll consider the challenges your heroines and heroes face. Your readers will measure them by what they take on.

About Eve’s Thieves:

A group of women have been the victims of some unusual thefts. They have had, not items, but aspects of themselves stolen via dark magic. To stop the thieves and restore themselves, they band together to defeat the loose confederation known as Eve's Thieves. To do it, they must battle an ancient evil, deal with betrayal … and face the darkness within themselves. But they soon find that little is as it seems. Can they trust anyone -- even each other? Who is the leader of the group known as Eve’s Thieves? What will it take to stop her … and will any of them survive to do it?

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