It’s weird to write “adventure fiction” that really isn’t about adventure itself. The entire premise of the Constance Verity series is the struggles Connie has with balancing her adventuring obligations and her desires for an ordinary life.
So it’s strange, though not surprising, to hear people complain that they never thought Connie was in any “real” danger. As if the entire purpose of the novel is to convince anyone that Connie is going to die.
SPOILER ALERT: She doesn’t die in the first book of her trilogy.
EXTRA SPOILER ALERT: She doesn’t die in the second book of her trilogy.
As a writer, I don’t think it’s really necessary to pretend as if I’m going to kill Connie when I’ve outright stated she’s going to be the central character in three books. Like any ongoing character, Connie exists with a contractual immortality. She is mortal, but she isn’t going to die. Just as Batman is technically more vulnerable than Superman, but neither Batman nor Superman are going to die as long as they’re part of an ongoing series.
My biggest influences have always been comic book superheroes, and I never read an ongoing comic with the expectation that the primary character (the person with their name as the title in nearly all cases) was going to die. I read to share in their adventures, their clever escapes, their triumphs. The characters could fail. Often did. But it wasn’t by dying because dead characters are hard to keep telling stories about. (There are some exceptions.)
Some of my heroes are certainly more competent than others. But at the heart of Connie is the acceptance of her ability to do the impossible because she does it so regularly. With a character like Connie, much like Emperor Mollusk before her, triumph over incredible odds is meant to be seen as a foregone conclusion.
I get that can be confusing to some people. Every week at my writers group I start my read with, “In this chapter, Connie fights squid people to save the world, but that’s really not what this chapter is about…” which is kind of weird.
But it is striking to me that so many people assume that without the threat of imminent death, a character’s story becomes less meaningful. As if we’ve somehow fooled ourselves into thinking Indiana Jones is going to get shot in the back by a Nazi.
Keelah Se’lai
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,
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