I never really trusted the traditional hero of films and books when I was growing up. He (generally, the hero was male) usually had a massive death wish – willingly throwing himself into danger, always attempting to take the bullet, blade, or explosion for a friend or total stranger, and generally trying to get killed – all for a good cause.
Then, when they had survived all their near-misses and subconscious attempts to die, they would tell you to be good, do your homework, study hard, brush your teeth, etc, etc…
Also, they all had massive egos, an adoring girlfriend (hourglass figure, of course), and a few male friends who hero-worshipped them and always told them that they were marvellous and wonderful.
So, for me, heroes were boring, self-serving, and got in the way of the good bits of the book/film.
It was then that I discovered Sean Connery playing James Bond – what an eye-opener that was! – a hero who would do bad things! (As an aside, for me, there are only two actors who have played James Bond as he should be played – a thug in a tux: Sean Connery and Daniel Craig.)
At about the same time, I discovered David Gemmell, a British writer. His heroes were tired, old, and not trying to save the world; they were trying to save their homes and their families (Legend, Waylander, etc). At last, here was a hero I could understand. I knew why he was making a stand. I knew why he was willing to risk all. More importantly, he was a lot more interesting than the classic ‘hero’.
Then I got hold of work by Alan Moore, another British writer. Everyone should read The Ballad of Halo Jones. Forget that it is a graphic novel; just enjoy one of the best-written space opera / adventure stories ever.
Right, I’m getting sidetracked; back to the point of this post.
As most of you will know, I am in the slow process of writing another novel, with the Midnight Man and the Brethren of the Night as the main villains. To counter them, I need a true hero.
For those of you that have read Salvation and Damnation, you will already know who the hero is. Maybe you raised an eyebrow and muttered, “Really? Him!!”
Yes, HIM! He was chosen with great care and much thought, He was no sudden whim or shock choice.
Let me ask you a question – If the world was on fire and evil ruled, who would you rather have fighting for you?
1. A hero who is constantly throwing himself in front of every sharp object to protect his friends, and weeping (he is a modern man) at the death and destruction all around.
2. A man who does not care about niceties or delicate flowers – a man who, no matter how badly beaten, will always get back up – a man who will stand when everyone else has given up hope – a man who is driven by a furnace of white-hot emotions – a man who will stare evil in the eye and say, “Come on, if you think you are hard enough, fat boy!”
My hero in the new books may not have a heart of gold or kiss babies, but you know that he will take a stand when no one else will, and, to me, that is what true heroes do – stand, when no one else will.