Troy of Steel

Last post, I shared some insight into Helen from Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest.  Today, I’m following up with the Troy half of our questing duo.

Troy is perfect.  Let’s just get that out of the way right now.  He is a cool, smart, confident, handsome, athletic, and just all around an awesome guy.  If you’re looking for a guy wrestling with internal conflict, Troy is not for you.  He is, deliberately, great, and while some might argue he’s an unrealistic character, that’s precisely why I created him.

I’m always looking for ways to do something I haven’t done before, and I had yet to create a character who was simply, unapologetically positive.  Such characters are (usually rightly) too often viewed as unrealistic or absurd, and in an age when even Superman must be a mopey, insecure dude, Troy is a throwback to a time when heroes where heroic and admirable and the kind of people we’d all like to be.  (Most of us anyway.)

Since I wrote this book well before Man of Steel, it’s just sheer coincidence that Troy is more like a traditional superhero than the guy in that movie.  Still, it works out because the perception that a nearly perfect character is not worthy of starring in a story is one of the big reasons I created Troy in the first place.  While I get that the flaws can be what make a character interesting, I think it’s too easy to miss the unique challenges and joys such characters bring to our collective fiction.

But to be honest, Troy isn’t quite perfect.  He’s only nearly perfect.  He has his conflicts, his moments of uncertainty.  He just has a hell of a lot less than any of we normal people.

The thing about Troy is that I want him to be likable and appealing, and someone you would like to spend time with.  My goal wasn’t to create someone you could empathize with, but someone you’d just really like to know and who, by knowing them, would inspire you to be a better person.  So, yeah, strange as it may seem, I kind of wanted to create Superman without superpowers.

I’ll admit it proved a challenge.  In terms of sheer confidence and ability, I’d say only Emperor Mollusk compares to Troy.  But Emperor has his troubled moments, and he wavers between confidence and arrogance.  Emperor is his own worst enemy, whereas Troy is everyone’s friend, including himself.  To make a character like that who is approachable and worth writing about without getting saccharine or annoying about it wasn’t easy, but that’s why it was worth doing in the first place.

The funny thing about it is that, by virtue of being a regular human on a quest with a minotaur girl, Troy’s more incredible qualities often take a backseat to just being the “normal” guy.  Again, this is intentional because life is relative.  When you’re suddenly surrounded by monsters and magic, suddenly you become “the human”.  It’s all relative, right?

So it is that I dropped a fantastic (literally) young woman and a (nearly) perfect young man in a car and sent them on a quest to see what would happen.  As it turned out, a lot of cool stuff did.  But we’ll get into that later.

In the next post, I’ll mention the third protagonist (of a sort) in our story:  Nigel Skullgnasher, Orc, Weekend Biker, Accountant, and Reluctant Assassin of the Gods.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    First off, I read both this and the Helen post below all as one, so I’m just going to comment once.

    Second off, I find myself seeing the times posted as expected reading times and trying to beat them. Then I wonder “What would ‘beating them’ be? Reading faster? Or reading SLOWER and giving it more thought as I go?”

    Third off, this book sounds amazing. I like the minotaur-ism concept for Helen, and I’m interested to see how Troy works out, given your Superman Rebuttals.

  2. Posted June 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I completely forgot before that I wanted to comment on the females-as-sexy-superheroes thing you mention. I’ve been imagining if The Thing was a woman — not a Sexy Thing Woman like She Hulk only made out of brick, but if The Thing was a woman who looked like The Thing does now. I wonder if that’s never been tried, in comics, because they’re mainly aimed at guys, who don’t want to see brick-like women-walls wandering around.

    (I also wonder: if The Thing was a woman, would they draw her with a bikini top on, even though there are no breasts and if there were they’d be made of brick? I bet they would).

    What’s interesting is that no WOMEN have (to my knowledge) written about a woman hero who is NOT attractive. There’s no She Things in woman’s hero lit, either, so while men and women have no problem making man-monsters, it appears that nobody’s got any real desire to see a woman-monster.

    Now I’d like to see that. Maybe I’ll try something like that.

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