Anne Greenwood Brown is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob this month and she has written a thoughtful post on what makes a hero. Read on to learn more about Anne and her book Lies Beneath and her main character, Calder.
What Makes a Hero?
When I first sat down to write LIES BENEATH, I struggled with the question of who my “hero” really was. Heroes have always been tough for me to write. I’m not sure why exactly, but it may be because I’ve never known one--at least, not in the traditional, save the universe kind of way. I finally decided that, for me, what’s most heroic is a quiet willingness to be self-sacrificing. Because if that’s the standard, isn’t that something we can all strive for?
When I think about my favorite literary heroes, I see self-sacrifice everywhere I look. Darcy sacrifices societal expectations for love in Pride & Prejudice. Katniss sacrifices her own safety for her sister’s in The Hunger Games. Harry Potter sacrifices his life for his friends’ lives.
This penchant for martyrdom is all well and good, but come on. None of us are 100% saintly, are we? If we create a hero who is all about self-giving, don’t we end up with someone who’s just too good to believe, and maybe even too good to love?
One way to create hero characters who are more realistic and believable is to give them not just great virtue, but also a serious vice. Take a good hard look at yourself. What is the one thing that you wish you could change? What is the one thing you’re most embarrassed about? What’s your biggest sin? Giving your hero a flaw makes him/her not only more believable, but also more relatable to readers and--ultimately--more lovable. Think about it. Darcy is a snob. Katniss is aloof. Harry is reckless (and sometimes a little self-righteous, if you ask me).
In my novel, LIES BENEATH, the main character Calder White is an incredibly good looking sea creature who preys on unsuspecting humans. He certainly isn’t a hero in the traditional sense, and he doesn’t come in at the last second to rescue the damsel in distress. What he does do is set aside his own goals and desires for the sake of someone else’s happiness. Only when he does that does he shed the monster and become a man.
And that...in my book...is the test of a true hero.
If you are interested in winning a copy of Anne's book Lies Beneath, enter here: Lies Beneath Giveaway