Monster Appeal

I saw a picture of Laurel K. Hamilton today.  She looks an awful lot like Anita Blake, her most famous creation.  Not exactly alike.  Anita is a more attractive, idealized version.  Not to imply that Mz. Hamilton isn’t attractive, but you know what I mean.

Clive Cussler likes to put himself in his books too.  And I’m not talking about a stand in.  I’m talking about Cussler, the novelist, appearing in and advancing the story.  Always struck me as a bit weird.  Heck, Stephen King did the same thing, right?  Although King didn’t glamorize himself, that’s still a bit of an ego stroke, no matter how you want to look at it.  And, hey, there’s nothing terribly wrong with that.  Most writers are human, and most humans have their moments of insecurity.

I don’t think I’ve ever put myself in a book.  Not yet anyway.  But I’m just as guilty of inserting idealized alternate character versions of myself.  Maybe it’s just not as obvious because my ideals are different.  I would honestly love to be a seven foot tall, indestructible robot detective.  No question about it.  And I’d settle for being a talking gorilla in a pinch.  I’m not sure I’d care to be a gawky vampire, but if tomorrow I woke up and discovered myself a pudgy, badass werewolf, I could cope.

Not that every book features a character I would want to be.  There’s no stand in for yours truly in OGRES, WITCH, CURSES, or MONSTER.  Even the characters I like in those stories have no fantasy “I want to be them” appeal.

But it is funny how the same idea can manifest in different ways.  In WoW, I love the tauren, the race of hulking minotaurs belonging to The Horde.  Hands down, they’re my favorite race of all the WoW choices.  A big reason The Horde appeals to me at all is because they are the monster-type races.  Except for the blood elves, who only prove that sticking “blood” in front of “elves” still doesn’t make elves cool.  (Just kiddin’, Horde buddies.)

I’ve been meaning to create an Alliance character, but I just can’t get into them.  They’re just . . . too human.  They have the drenai, the monster-ish race of the Alliance.  And they are monster-ish, but they’ve got human faces, which kind of drops the ball for me.  I’m aware of the superficiality of that.  The races in WoW are just window dressing.  They don’t have a significant impact on gameplay.  Except for maybe gnomes, who are tiny and can be difficult to click on, I suppose.  But that’s about it.

 Though I don’t see the appeal of blood elves myself, I know that my preference for hulking minotaurs is no more enlightened than someone who wants to play a blonde-haired, green-eyed waif.  It’s just a superficial preference, a quirk.  Does it make me weird?  No, because now that I’m a world-renowned novelologist, I get to be “eccentric”, instead of weird.  And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Gabe
    Posted July 20, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    This kind of “mary-sue-ism” (so I’ve heard it called) gets especially disturbing when the stand for the author begins to do sadistic things, and is completely justified by the author. I haven’t read his books, but a friend relayed to me the strange case of John Ringo in where extreme militarism, s&m, and other such g-rated materials are exalted. And his books sell. That might be scarier.

  2. Posted August 8, 2009 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    As a reader, I wasn’t fond of King putting himself in the story in the Dark Tower series. It felt a bit like a deus ex machina maneuver. But on the flipside, it may have been a way for him to deal with his own accident and issues. I suppose writers write for different reasons, and that’s ok. It just felt disconnected in this instance.

  3. Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    On the WoW front, did you hear about the rumored new races? Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde), apparently. Worgen would certainly be a non-human-type toon for you to try Alliance-side!

  4. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted August 19, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Yes, I’ve heard this rumor. I wouldn’t mind being a Worgen, I suppose. Not exactly a giant minotaur, but close enough.

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