Please welcome Rob J. Hayes to The Qwillery. The Heresy Within was published on November 10th by Ragnarok.
Flawed Characters – Nobody Likes a Goody Two Shoes
Nobody likes a goody two shoes. OK so that statement isn't entirely true as people do occasionally like to hear about heroes and heroines of uncompromising virtue; if they didn't Superman wouldn't be nearly as popular as he is given his ridiculously dull set of powers. However, there is a reason Batman is the more likeable hero of the two: he's flawed.
In literature, film, and media the general populace always seem to gravitate more towards anti-heroes. We, as a people, love stories of heroism and valour but we also want to be able to connect to our heroes, to be able to see them as people and not Gods and it's part of our makeup that we connect to and empathise with flaws much more readily than strengths.
For a simplified example:
If I see a character with a mighty beard I don't automatically think “What a glorious beard. I, too, sport a beard so I will cheer for you.” however, if I see a character struggling to quit smoking because they enjoy it even though it's bad for them, I immediately empathise with that character because I've been there and done that and know their pain.
It's simplified and those are external examples rather than internal ones but I believe it makes the point. Flaws attract us to characters, not strengths.
This is the golden rule I used when creating the characters that populate the world of The Heresy Within. Each of the three main characters had to have a multitude of flaws to go along with their strengths, each one would be an anti-hero:
Jezzet Vel'urn suffers from some pretty serious self doubt, knowing how strong she is but also doubting her choices and where they lead but she is also tougher than old leather and driven to survive no matter what comes.
Thanquil Darkheart has issues with authority along with a kleptomania disorder that leans more towards the mania, but he is also tenacious and good natured despite the grim world around him.
The Black Thorn is a paranoid sociopath but with a loyalty and honour all of his own.
And these are just the protagonists and a few of their traits; The Heresy Within features a large supporting cast each with their own peculiar set of flaws and strengths.
Here in the real world we all have flaws, not one of us is perfect (not even me), and we're all a little bit crazy and we like our heroes and heroines of fiction to be the same way. Once we're connected to those characters on an emotional level we can laugh along with them, cry along with them, feel fear along with them and, eventually, even mourn their passing (I don't necessarily mean their deaths but those special times when you finish a book and suddenly something feels like it's missing almost as if you just said goodbye to an old friend).
It's human nature that we connect to, empathise with, and fall in love with flaws. BUT we fall in line behind strengths.
The Heresy Within
The Ties That Bind 1
Ragnarok Publications, November 10, 2014
eBook, 396 pages
Thanquil Darkheart is an Arbiter of the Inquisition, a witch hunter tasked with hunting down and purging heretics. Thanquil Darkheart is also something else, expendable.
When the God-Emperor of Sarth tells Thanquil there is a traitor operating among the highest echelon of the Inquisition he knows he has no choice but to sail to the city of Chade and follow the Emperor's single lead.
The Black Thorn is a murderer, a thug, a thief and worse but he's best known for the killing of six Arbiters. These days he travels with a crew of six of the most dangerous sell-swords in the wilds.
After a job well done they find themselves on the run from the law once again but the boss has good news; a new job, the biggest any of them have ever pulled. First, however, they need to evade capture long enough to secure travel to the free city of Chade.
Jezzet Vel'urn is a Blademaster; a swords-woman of prodigious skill but she knows that for a woman like her in the wilds there are two ways out of most situations; fight or fuck. Truth is, all too often for Jezzet's liking, it comes down to a combination of the two.
Jezzet is chased half-way across the wilds by a vengeful warlord until she makes it to the free city of Chade. Instead of sanctuary, however, all she finds are guards waiting to turn her over for some quick gold.
Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords wooden sticks.
At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen year old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen year old boys, he eventually grew up... a bit.
After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.
Now based in Derbyshire, UK, Rob has a variety of hobbies when he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.