Having served in a hundred different offices as a keyboard monkey Rob J. Hayes finally decided to follow his life long passion of daydreaming. After writing a small horde’s worth of short stories (many of which can be found on his website), he released his debut trilogy “The Ties that Bind” in 2013 as an indie publication and followed it up with the standalone release The Northern Sunrise in 2014.
Having now signed a deal with Ragnarok to bring “The Ties that Bind” to traditional paper publication Rob is furiously working away at a follow-up series set in the same world.
When not writing Rob is usually found either card gaming, computer gaming, board gaming, dice gaming, airsoft gaming, or pretending to be a Viking.
by Rob J Hayes
From an early age I have loved reading about, and watching stories involving fantastical heroes. The men and women I’m talking about here are the ones who can wade into a battle and change its course, who can influence others with their qualities of leadership to fight harder, dig deeper, and give more to the cause. I’m talking about the Conans, the Aragorns, the Optimus Primes, the Buffys, the Captain Americas, the Jack Bauers, the Joan of Arcs, the Achilles, the Ripleys, the John Matrixs, the Rivers, the Thors… I could probably go on to near forever here but I’ll stop. The idea is characters who can single-handedly turn the tide.
I love these types of characters because they embody the heroic spirit of fantasy and that’s something I can rally behind. Now don’t get me wrong, more often than not these are not the characters I empathize most with, they aren’t usually the sorts of people I’d find myself inviting down the pub for a pint and a chat about the day (can you imagine having a beer with Jack Bauer? That could only end one way and I’m not a fan of having my nipples electrocuted), but they are the sort of characters I find myself cheering for and really getting behind. They are also the characters that often stick around in my head LONG after all the others have faded from immediate memory.
I remember reading The Lord of the Rings when I was a child and the heroism of Boromir stuck with me for years. In my mind he was full of orc arrows and still fighting on, taking down waves of the evil minions to defend Merry and Pippin. There were hundreds of dead Uruk-hai at his feet before they finally brought him down. He was a single warrior worth hundreds and that made me cheer for him despite his previous transgressions; it made him a true hero. Boromir has forever been one of my favourite characters despite the fact that I always connected better with Samwise mostly due to his loyal nature.
So what is it about these characters that truly makes them so compelling because it can’t just be their ability to mow down enemies. Honestly, I think it’s because they show the most basic and obvious form of heroism. These characters throw themselves into danger, into almost certain death against impossible odds. Essentially they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, for the rest of us and there’s nothing more heroic than putting your life on the line for the sake of others. Of course these characters usually beat the odds and survive which only serves to make them even more compelling.
One thing I’ve learned from writing is that penning these characters can be extremely difficult. Finding the balance between overwhelming heroism and realistic character traits is the key. Your death-dealing warrior needs to be accessible to the reader at the same time as being a big damned hero. They need to be the sort of person we all aspire to be like, at the same time as being as lamentable as the rest of us.