Damaged characters

Originally posted as a guest post in May 2015.

Good day everyone! My name is M.D. Grimm and I will be your host today. Thank you Jo for allowing me to be on your blog. You're the best. I write m/m romance and usually spice it up with supernatural or paranormal or fantasy aspects. Since it's "Talk to me Tuesday" I thought I'd touch on a subject that I find fascinating: the "damaged" character, what some might call the anti-hero.

There's something intriguing about damaged characters; characters looking for redemption, using their past misdeeds as motivation to do better, to atone. There's something relatable about them, even if we haven't been through what they have. We root for them, congratulate them, and fall with them. As I started my own writing journey, I realized how attracted I was to the damaged character and curious about how they might rise above their dark deeds and find some purpose, and even forgiveness. This is also reflected in the books and TV shows/movies I like to watch. One of my favorite book series is "The Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher. I rise and fall with the main character, Harry Dresden, and while I might not always agree with him, I always hope he succeeds in whatever he plans. The choices always seem to be between two evils and he has to choose the lesser and deal with the consequences. If you haven't checked it out—you should!

I think my love affair with the damaged, searching-for-atonement character bloomed in the 90s while watching "Xena: Warrior Princess." Yeah... I was a Xena fan (still am, I totally bought all the DVDs). But why shouldn't I be? She was a strong woman, who certainly wasn't a man-hater, but could hold her own without breaking a sweat. But she committed atrocities and was trying to find redemption. I love that.

I see the damaged character, you could call them anti-heroes, on TV and in movies. Sure, it's entertaining to watch the always good character continue to be good against the big-bad villain. But there is something realer and grittier about watching a character with flaws and even some moral ambiguity save the day. I don't think it's just me considering the attention such characters are getting in books, movies, and TV.

As a result of my love for such characters, I tried my hand at it in "The Stones of Power" romance/fantasy series with Torquere Press. I was going for more of an anti-hero, and while I don't think I accomplished that precisely, I am pleased with the outcome. Though, when I wrote Book #1 (Ruby: Lost and Found), I didn't know I would be starting a 13 book series. But after starting Book #2 (Peridot: War and Peace), I knew I had something and planned the entire series. Morgorth is a dark mage and is certainly damaged. He grew up abused, then when he came into his magick, he took his rage out on the world. The other mages hate him because they think his destiny is to become the Destroyer. I also play around with the idea of destiny vs. choice in the series.

Despite my love for damaged characters, I do want to see them grow. I used to watch "Once Upon a Time" but had to stop because no growth seemed to happen for Regina (the wicked queen). It just kept going on and on... and the soap opera-ish momentum got on my nerves. It's still a good show, don't get me wrong, and some people really like that structure and more power to them! But for me, not so much. I want growth, I want change, I want to move on. I want the character(s) to evolve and grow and then the series to end on a good note. That's why I planned a set 13 books, no more and no less. I already have the plots for each book outlined and the trajectory fleshed out. Now I just need to find the time to write....

It's a hard thing to do, to balance the bad with the good in a character like this. They need to be on the edge but also likeable... or at least the readers need to love to hate the character. There are times I'll write a character—like Morgorth—and realize that in real life, I don't know if could be that person's friend. It's funny to think that. I love them but I don't always like them. That shows me that I have a pretty darn good character if even I have issues with them and their personality and choices. I just finished writing Book #5 (Emerald: Good and Evil) of the series and Morgorth makes a dramatic decision that will have severe repercussions on himself and the way he's viewed by others. Do I agree with him? It's hard to say. From his point I understand his decision, but from my own standpoint, I question it. (Yes, to me, my characters are living and breathing and we argue sometimes). I flipped back and forth between two different endings but finally settled on one. The way the story was heading, there was no alternative.

Morgorth is not a hero. But he's not a villain either. He's that strange in-between character and he doesn't even know what or who he is half the time. It depends on the situation and who his opponent is.

I greatly enjoy writing the series, these characters, and playing around with the themes of good vs evil, destiny vs choice, how people perceive you vs how you perceive yourself, etc.

What do you think? What is a hero? A villain? Do you like damaged characters or do you find them too angsty?

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

The Stones of Power:

#1 Ruby: Lost and Found (in ebook and print)

#2 Peridot: War and Peace (in ebook and print)

#3 Amethyst: Bow and Arrow

#4 Agate: Then and Now (to be released August 2015)

#5 Emerald: Good and Evil (to be released November 2015)

To learn more about "The Stones of Power" visit my website www.mdgrimmwrites.com or purchase them at http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=358&zenid=444c592bdcc1f41429342cd14e02289e

I also have a shape-shifter series with Dreamspinner Press and you can find out more at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm

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