Please welcome M. L. Brennan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Generation V will be published on May 7, 2013 by Roc.
The Weaker Protagonist
There’s something I like about a weak protagonist. I don’t mean weak in a moral or character sense, but in terms of how they stack up against their antagonist. The weak protagonist doesn’t have a super magical power that can level her enemies with a thought, or an army to lead, or fighting skills so incredible that they’ve never lost and can never lose. The weak protagonist is outclassed in every encounter with the bad guys – so they end up having to use their brains, or make connections with other characters, or sometimes go into a fight that they know they will, in all likelihood, lose.
To me, that creates a character that is inherently interesting and also has a certain level of tension throughout the story. This can be missing in a story where the hero never loses, always comes out on top, or just has so much power that as soon as they enter the room they can just re-order reality to fix the situation. Something that really struck me the first time I heard it was when I was listening to the Firefly episode commentaries (because, yes, I’m that geek) and Joss Whedon was talking about how important it was that most of the pilot episode showed his characters getting pushed around and not being able to do much about it. He said that it was more interesting to see someone get up than see someone never fall down. He also said, and I can quote because this really hung with me, “It’s the Air Force One arc. ‘He’s a strong, tough president, and when the chips are down, he’s strong and tough!’ Well, that’s not much of a story, is it?”
That was the thought that was in my mind when I created my title character for Generation V, Fortitude Scott. Fort might be a vampire, but at the beginning of the book, everyone can beat him up. In one of the early scenes, he is mugged on the sidewalk by Bruins fans. But this is also the guy who is later going to risk his life to try to save a little girl – and unlike when a superman-style character goes and rescues a little girl, Fort is someone who can actually get seriously hurt or even killed. When I was constructing the character, Fort’s vulnerabilities were incredibly important to me, because in my mind that’s what makes his later actions heroic – he knows that his enemy can beat him into a pulp, and he goes in anyway. That made me respect him, and it also left me interested and invested in him, much more so than if he’d spent the rest of the book displaying awesome superpowers.
Tied in with that, I wanted the big issue of the book to not involve the end of the world. Because when the end of the world is involved, there isn’t exactly much of an option about whether or not to stop it. It’s like, ‘well, I don’t want to risk my life to stop the end of the world. But if I stay here on my sofa drinking Red Bull, the world will end, and I’ll die anyway. So I guess I might as well go and try to stop it.’ That’s not an actual choice, which is why end of the world stakes bug me when I read a story. So when Fort is facing the big stakes of the book, I didn’t have him face the end of the world. I had him face something that was, yes, evil. But it was evil that if he turned his back and sat on the couch, he’d get through it just fine, and so would his family and the rest of the world. The person who would die wouldn’t make an impact on his life. But he chooses to go risk his life anyway, and that was what made him someone that I could root for both as the reader and as the author.
About Generation V
Roc, May 7, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.
But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.
But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…
About M. L. Brennan
M. L. Brennan lives in Connecticut with her husband and three cats. Holding a master’s degree in fiction, she teaches basic composition to college students. After spending years writing and publishing short work in other genres, Brennan decided to branch out and write the kind of book that she loved to read, resulting in Generation V, her first full-length work of urban fantasy.
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter @BrennanML