Heroes and Villains Blog-Hop

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When the Hero’s the Villain and the Villain’s the Hero

I’d like to open things up here with a big thank you to Martin Bolton for organizing this Heroes and Villains blog hop. With so many SF/Fantasy authors blogging about the genre, we’re bound to have some lively and interesting discussions. Not to mention prizes! So, be sure to check out all the blogs, win some prizes. See what they say and start up a conversation before hopping to the next author. My prize is a swag-bag from my book, Kojiki.

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To win, you have to leave a comment on this blog, retweet my post, share, and favorite it. I’ll choose from the post that hits me just right–but be warned, it has to relate to my post. It must also add something to the discussion. No snarks, please. We’re closing the Blog Hop on May 6, so that’s when I’ll choose the winner! Don’t forget leaving some way for me to contact you 🙂

Now, on with the show. I thought it might fun–and different–to take a cue from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. For those unfamiliar with the book, Mr. Maguire flips what we know about the merry old land of Oz upside down and leaves us questioning our preconceived notions of good and evil.

Mr. Maquire is by no means the first to bend the rules, so to speak. When Sutekh the Destroyer famously–and chillingly–says to Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, “Your evil is my good,” he’s expressing the same idea, namely: that POV plays a big part in determining good and evil, and by default heroes and villains.

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(“Your evil is my good.” Sutekh from Doctor Who–Pyramids of Mars)

Not that I want to disagree with a god or anything, but since SF/fantasy fans are by and large human beings, the POV is pretty well established. And that’s the challenge for an author. Given our preconceptions, how do we, as storytellers, create complex and compelling characters?

For me, the answer meant making the hero’s actions somewhat less than heroic. No milquetoast, squeaky-clean good guys here. True, I set them up as typical goody-goodies, but only because I wanted you to believe in their goodness. To empathize with them. Then–BAM–I have them behave badly. Very badly. The tragic flaw, that’s what my English teacher called it. I prefer to think of it as a nifty plot device that adds depth and momentum to the story.

My ostensible heroes end up turning the story’s noblest character into its villain. Then, just because I didn’t think that was enough of a gut punch, I decided the only way for them to stop their creation from destroying the world was to kill him. Not very heroic, now is it?

As for the supposed villain, he’s actually the only character in the story who acts selflessly. His reasons aren’t necessarily pure, but his desire to help his friends certainly is. Too bad it all goes so horribly wrong. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, as they say. And fall he does–in spectacularly heart-wrenching fashion. Bad enough to do something for all the right reasons–worse to do it for love THEN have it turn you into a monster.

Early on, I told my editor I wanted a cross between Billy Budd and the Phantom of the Opera–with a little mad-scientist thrown in for good measure.  I then added infinite power, madness, and made sure his best friends were the ones who had to destroy him. If I did this right, the reader will dread the book’s cataclysmic ending as much as anticipate it. Right and wrong, good and bad. You’ll have to decide for yourself which of my characters are heroic and which are villainous. It might not be as easy as you think.

Check out these other authors participating in the blog hop for more on heroes and villains–not to mention prizes!

  1. Nyki Blatchley
  2. Martin Bolton
  3. Debra Brown
  4. Adrian Chamberlin
  5. Mike Cooley
  6. Karin Cox
  7. Joanna Fay
  8. Peter B Forster
  9. Ron Fritsch
  10. Mai Griffin
  11. Joanne Hall
  12. Jolea M Harrison
  13. Tinney Sue Heath
  14. Eleni Konstanine
  15. “K. Scott Lewis
  16. Paula Lofting
  17. Liz Long
  18. Peter Lukes
  19. Mark McClelland
  20. M. Edward McNally
  21. Sue Millard
  22. Rhiannon Douglas
  23. Ginger Myrick
  24. David Pilling
  25. EM Powell
  26. Kim Rendfeld
  27. Terry L Smith
  28. Tara West
  29. Mike Cooley

7 responses to “Heroes and Villains Blog-Hop

  1. Pingback: Heroes and Villains Blog-Hop | It's Kind of an Electronic Book

  2. That sounds like a fascinating set-up. I’d have said, from the brief outline, that it’s the villain who shows the classic tragic flaw – someone noble who manages to drag himself down into villainy.

    And yay for Sutekh.

  3. Ah, but he’s missing the flaw itself. He acts without it, seeking only to help his closest friends. They’re the ones with the flaws: pride, selfishness, etc. Glad you like the Sutekh reference. Pyramids of Mars is one of may favorite Doctor Who episodes. Great story, great writing.

  4. Pyramids of Mars was originally on while I was at university, and specifically at the time we were having a Classics lecture about the Greek take on Egyptian mythology. I still remember the lecturer referring to Osiris’s brother Set, or Sutekh… then pausing, and adding “currently appearing on Doctor Who.”

  5. Hi! Thanks for sharing! Your post was great! I love hearing anyones takes on heros and villians! Thanks for the fun! 🙂
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

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