Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#atozchallenge: Hero--or Antihero?

2014: A Year In Stories
A twelve-volume anthology published by Pure Slush Books.

What is a hero

The person that does the right thing because it comes naturally to them? Or the person to whom that right thing does not come naturally--but does it anyway? 

Traditional definitions:
(Clarification: definition #2 is not in dispute. Not in this post, anyway.)

But tradition doesn't seem to be big with the 2014 project writers. Welcome to another conversation with the authors.

Stephen V. Ramey
STEPHEN V. RAMEY: For me, heroism is strongly related to self-sacrifice. A hero is someone who is willing (and does) risk life, limb, or worldview in order to rescue or nurture another. 

GUILIE: And an antihero, then, is--

STEPHEN: Is one who selfishly takes from another to feed his or her own wants. My main character, Stephen, is--

GUILIE: Is your 2014 story autobiographical? 

STEPHEN: [pleads the fifth, clears throat] Stephen is both heroic and anti-heroic. By his thinking he--well, he does what he eventually does (no, no further comment at this time) in order to protect his wife from the consequences of his disease. But the objective truth is that their marriage has been unsatisfying to him for years, and the disease becomes an excuse for him to selfishly pull away and engage in a quixotic adventure that allows him to persist in denial while aggrandizing his sense of self. Is he a flawed hero? An antihero? I think it depends on your perspective.

GAY DEGANI:  My favorite heroes are always flawed. I cannot get behind anyone who does everything right because that's just not human nature. I'd say the iconic hero for me is Bill Murray in Stripes, in Ghostbusters, in Groundhog Day. That guy!

Gay Degani
GUILIE: Are you saying a hero must be flawed in order to be a hero for you? Or does that constitute an anti-hero?

GAY: This is a human being with flaws. Perhaps that is an anti-hero. Or perhaps it has to do with the level of flaws. Maybe I need to go look up definitions. [leaves, returnsOkay. Stooping to be quick, here's what I found at Wikipedia: 
"The antihero or antiheroine [...] lacks the traditional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, nobility, fortitude, moral goodness, and altruism. Whereas the classical hero is larger than life, antiheroes are typically inferior to the reader in intelligence, dynamism or social purpose."
By this definition, Bill Murray would be an antihero and Atticus Finch (one of my absolute favorite characters) would be a hero.

GUILIE: I love Atticus Finch! And characters with flaws win me over, too, more than perfect people. What's there to admire in perfection? It's the struggle, the striving, that forges character, no?

Susan Tepper
SUSAN TEPPER: My character is a psychopath. What he does cannot be defined as a hero in any sense.

GUILIE: Not even if he recognized the twistedness of his psyche, if he were trying to overcome it? I'm thinking of that movie with Kevin Bacon, can't remember the name, but he's also a pedophile.

SUSAN: No. In real life pedophiles never reform. It's accepted in the psychology literature. It's an addiction of sorts in their character.

MICHAEL WEBB: Mark Hamilton is a flawed hero. He's not famous, but he's at a level where diehard baseball fans, and certainly fans in whatever city he plays for, know his name. He's lauded as an athletic hero, but he behaves less than perfectly when--well, when certain things happen.

GUILIE: What things? Is he going to--?

MICHAEL: No spoilers!

GUILIE: He is, isn't he? But why? I just--okay, sorry. I said sorry. Go on. I'll shut up.

MICHAEL: So Mark's trying, but he seems to be susceptible to taking the easy way out. (I'm not at all thrilled with what that says about me as an author.)

MATT POTTER: Grigor the therapist (and Morgana's ex-husband) thinks he's a hero, helping people and diving into the deepest part of their psyches. But, really, he's just a self-serving shit.

GUILIE: No redeeming qualities? None at all?

MATT: [thinks for a moment, shakes head]

GUILIE: What about Morgana? Does she have the makings of a heroine or antiheroine?

SUSAN: Matt, don't answer that. You're all going to have to read Matt's interview to find out.

GUILIE: But that's not until M day. That's, like, next week.

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Want to know more about these authors? Read the interviews with Gay, Stephen, Matt, Susan, and Michael about their 2014 stories.

The first six volumes of the 2014 project are available in both e-formats and print. Get free shipping with code FM303 (until April 10th).

~ * ~ 

What's your definition of a hero? What about an antihero? Which do you prefer to read about? Which do you find it easier to relate to? Which is harder for you to write?

Thanks for joining the 2014: A Year In Stories conversation, and happy A-to-Z-ing!


  1. I like Stephen's definition of hero and anti-hero. A hero that is flawed is good in real life, but sometimes I want good literature to inspire me, and that's when I go for the kinds of stories with heroes and heroines who can fit into this definition that Stephen speaks of.

  2. Loved reading different ideas about hero and anti-hero. I love reading more about anti-heros though :)

  3. I don't give labels to my characters. The only time I had to was for a screen writing class. There's been so much conversation lately about heros and alpha vs beta that I'm totally confused.

  4. Great post, Guilie. Nice to see the assortment of writers and read their thoughts. That movie with Kevin Bacon, yeah, I don't remember the name either, but it made me cringe. Don't ever want to watch another one like it. Definitely an anti-anything.

  5. I'm with Gay, I like my hero flawed...a enjoy a great baddie!
    Loving the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

  6. I also agree with Gay. I like to write and read about characters who have flaws because real people have flaws. Just because he or she is a hero/heroine doesn't mean they have to be perfect. I love the heroes that are less than perfect but always fight for what's right.


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