Sunday, April 28, 2013

Amy Raby: Writing the Flawed Hero

I’ve spent much of my life in majority-male environments. Not intentionally; it just worked out that way. My mother died when I was young, leaving me in a household that was all male except for myself. Many of my neighborhood friends happened to be boys. In college, I majored in Computer Science, ensuring that most of my classmates would be men, and then I worked at a technology company where the employees were, again, nearly all men.

Nowadays, most of my friends are women, but I feel comfortable around men, and I enjoy writing them. They are not a mysterious other species to me; they’re just people.

And that’s how I like to write them: as people. Not as billionaire hunks of masculine perfection, who always know the right things to say, but as human beings with flaws, who make mistakes and have moments of weakness and sometimes say the wrong thing. In my books, a hero isn’t somebody born with all the advantages: the right family, the right genes, the right opportunities. He’s a man who’s not perfect but who strives to be better, who makes mistakes and learns from them, who finds love with the woman who understands him and loves his flawed self.

In my fantasy romance novel Assassin’s Gambit, the hero is a powerful young emperor who is disabled. In his youth, he was attacked by a group of assassins, and while he managed to fight them off, he lost his lower left leg. Now he walks with a prosthetic and a crutch. The Kjallan Empire, which he rules, is steeped in warrior culture and holds up physical perfection in men as an ideal to be worshiped.

Lucien doesn’t fit this ideal. He will never take the field of battle again—at least not physically. Instead, he tries to prove his worth by being a great battlefield tactician and by playing the war game Caturanga. He is excellent at both, yet he knows that many people will not accept or value him. He yearns for a woman who can see past his physical limitations and appreciate his many other wonderful qualities.

I like to write about imperfect heroes and heroines because, let’s face it, hardly any of us are perfect. And I think imperfect people should have as much of a chance as anybody to find their happily ever after. Who are your favorite flawed heroes and heroines in literature?  

Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Assassin's Gambit!

***Amy's winner is Stefanie!  Please email with your mailing information! Thanks.***


Stefanie said...

I also like imperfect hero's and heroines. It makes them much more real. Especially people with a very difficult past speak to me. A past that still affects their present life. One of my favorite hero's fe is Zsadist from J.R. Ward's BDB.

Peta Crake said...

Interesting post, Amy. I think the most interesting characters usually are the imperfect ones. If they are perfect there is no room to improve and where's the fun in that? I love that your hero has a physical imperfection in a society that values "perfect" warrior males.

Amy said...

I haven't read that series yet, but I hear the name Zsadist a lot when people mention their favorite heroes. He seems to be popular!

Amy said...

Thank you! Yeah, imperfections give a character room to grow over the course of a novel.

traveler said...

Imperfect characters are real individuals. Heathcliff is one that I feel deserves recognition.

Pat Cochran said...

Add Rochester to the list! Another damaged
hero, on TV - not in books, is Vincent on
CBS' Beauty and the Beast from back in the

Pat C.

Aly said...

I love both perfect and imperfect characters, though you are right: the imperfect ones are much more interesting!

Barbara E. said...

I really enjoyed Eloisa James' Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant from When Beauty Tamed the Beast. He too has had an injury to his leg, although he didn't lose it, but the pain makes him very irritable. I also loved Lynn Kurland;s blind hero, Christopher of Blackmour, in This Is All I Ask. I think an imperfect hero adds to the story because it's one more hurdle they both have to go over in order to get to their HEA.

Mary Preston said...

Imperfect is much more interesting I must say. I've always loved the angst and passion and moodiness of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.

Eli Yanti said...

My flawed hero is quill from eloisa james book and heroine from maya banks book but I'm forget her name :(

Lory Lee said...

I love Lord Lucian Langdon from Lorraine Heath's "In the Bed with the Devil". His ugly past made him annoying that their were time that I would roll my eyes and want to pounce him in the head (if only he weren't a fictional character) for taking so long to realize his love for Catherine.

Heather said...

I love this cover. I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for doing the giveaway.