December 14, 2009

Can flawed heroes and tragedy still lead to HEA?

I grew up in Sunday school, and inevitably the teacher would ask, what was our favorite biblical story. The other students would say, "Christ's birth," "The Three Wise Men" or "Noah and the Flood," but I would always say, "David and Bathsheba."

Even at 10, I had a heart for flawed heroes and tragic consequences.

AEDAN ap OWEN, the hero of my current book TIES THAT BIND, is most definitely not perfect, not even close. He idles at angry, tends to act-out rather than think through his actions, and misuses his magical abilities for his own gain.

Yet, I have a soft spot for him. Despite his character flaws, he has a big heart—and what he wants most is to protect and be with those he loves. Of all my heroes, I think he needs his happy ending the most.

But as I wrote his story, there were times I wondered if he would get it. Each time he fails to think through his actions, the reactions pull him deeper into a quagmire of treason and murder. I wasn’t sure that even I had the ability to save him.

So I didn’t. I let him endure the consequences of his choices. Like my favorite biblical king, Aedan suffers because of his own faults—and grows because of it. Here’s a quick, edited excerpt of when that growth begins:


The tension spilling from Aedan was enough to make her skin prickle, and Tess wondered which emotions were hers and which were his.


"He would use her to bend me to his will," she said softly.

“The dead use no one."

In the silence that followed, he didn’t move, barely breathed, yet he shifted to become someone else. The change was slight, no more noticeable than if the wind had adjusted a curl, yet it consumed him. Gone was the mocking minstrel with an inconsiderate air.

In its place was a man radiating tense energy that cut as keenly as his sword. His skin seemed to glow and his mouth drew into a hard, thin line. But the change in his eyes was most pronounced. No longer blue-gray or glinting, they were ocean-dark against his skin and just as treacherous. He wore his otherness as a second skin. It should have made him vulnerable, but the effect was opposite.

He radiated power and magic and authority. In another world, Aedan would be king.


Aedan’s mixed, yet more-sweet-than-bitter HEA leads me to my question for you: When it comes to happy endings, do you find it more or less satisfying if there's a touch of realism in it?

Everyone who submits a comment will be entered into a drawing for an e-copy of TIES THAT BIND.

Keena Kincaid is the author of three historical romance novels with The Wild Rose Press. TIES THAT BIND, the second of her Druids of Duncarnoch series, is available from TWRP, as well as Amazon and other bookstores. Also, you can find her on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and http://www.keenakincaid.com/.



32 comments:

LuAnn said...

Yes, there does need to be a touch of realism in all endings, whether happy or sad. But then, that goes for the entire story ... not just the ending!

C P said...

The first thing that ran through my mind, of course, was define realism! LOL
It depends on the story - a blissful HEA to a bittersweet tale wouldn't ring true and would leave me unsatisfied.

Marie Tuhart said...

Flawed hero's are one of my fave's too. I really enjoy reading how the hero works through his flaws with the help of the heroine and you get that HEA.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Welcome, Keena. I'm glad to have you join me today. And what a great subject. One historical I read had a really flawed hero, to the point I didn't like him much, but he grew on me. The second time I read the book, I came to understand him better.

Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks for the welcome, Melinda.

Your comment made me laugh, CP. In a story with magical relics, druids and dragons, realism could be tough to define. But I suppose realism means realistic to the tale, as you said, a bittersweet ending to a bittersweet story.

Freedom Writer said...

A flaw or two makes a hero human.

Judy said...

This looks like a very good read. Everyone in this world has flaws. You have to compensate your flaws with other means.

Mona Risk said...

A good HEA ending usually gives me a smile and a sigh, and makes me daydream for a few muntes about the hero I don't want to leave yet. So whether it's a realistic end or not, I need that relaxing dreamy feeling.

Skhye said...

I don't even have to read this post to say SHOULDN'T THEY based on the question in the post's title? LOL And I love realism, even when writing paranormals that obviously stretch beyond realistic. Realism makes everything easier to relate to. Or I'm too edumacated in anthropology to see what people want to hear. ;)

I'm glad to see you're using "ap" in a Welsh name. That period feel is wonderful.

Sweet little excerpt. Happy holidays, Keena.

Huge prize: a cache of Time Guardian treasure. To enter, join me at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/skhyemoncrief/.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Marie. I'm glad you like flawed heroes, too. What was satisfying about writing Aedan's story is the way Tess, the heroine, balances him. She's the quiet, strong type, and at first blush, they are an unlikely pair. But quiet and strong is exactly what Aedan needs.

Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks again for the welcome Anna (I want to call you Melinda as that's how I know you on email). My critique partner didn't like Aedan at first either. But she eventually changed her mind.

Keena Kincaid said...

I agree Freedom Writer. Perfection bores me in a hero or heroine.

Keena Kincaid said...

I agree Judy. Flawed characters just feel more real to me. Confession time: I'm team Jacob. Edward just too perfect. :-)

Keena Kincaid said...

I love that post-book dreamy feeling, too, Mona. And a really good book will leave me feeling that way even if I've read it a dozen times already. And I usually know within the first chapter if the book's ending is going to satisfy me, don't you?

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Skhye! I'm glad you stopped by.

Yes, by the title, you should be able to tell I'm a fan of realistic, sometimes bittersweet endings. But I know some people like the fairy tale, happily-ever-afters where everything is set right at the end and everyone is happy except for the villain. And after the way 2009 has gone, there are times when that's all I want, too.

Tiffany Green said...

Aedan sounds like the perfectly flawed hero. I think it's important to give characters flaws. That's what makes them real. I enjoyed your post.

Margaret Tanner said...

I loved flawed heroes, but yes there does need to be a touch of realism, but that said, sublted changes in our flawed hero can lead to a satisfactory, realistic HEA.

Estella said...

A flaw or two makes a hero more believable.

Rhobin said...

Flawed characters are interesting to read about, but only if they grow in some way to deserve their HEA. When you say realism, I think what I look for is that the hero or heroine have earned whatever outcome happens, not received it through contrivance.

Keena Kincaid said...

The perfectly flawed hero? mmm, Tiffany. I hadn't thought about whether or not he's the perfectly flawed hero. But he's definitely flawed and I hope readers find him as real as I do. Thanks for your comment.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Margaret! Thanks for stopping by. I hope the changes in Aedan makes sense. The individual shifts are subtle, but by the time we get to the HEA, he's clearly not the same man we meet in chapter one.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Estella. I agree that flaws are more interesting. As I said, Team Jacob all the way. :-)

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Rhobin. Thanks for your comments. I agree that the resolution has to come from the story and the characters, not from thin air. That's why I like realistic endings, even if they are bittersweet.

Emma Lai said...

I loved flawed heroes and tend to write my own. It does make it difficult to get to the HEA sometimes...if the flaws are too big to overcome. But a little realism, please!

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Emma. Thanks for dropping by. And yes, flawed heroes are the best.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

What a great turn out today. Thanks, again, Keena for joining me today and thanks to everyone else for stopping by and saying hi.

Joanna Aislinn said...

Hi, Keena,

As much as I consider the hero to my upcoming release, NO MATTER WHY (January 15, 2010, The Wild Rose Press) the love of my writer's life, I have to admit, the hero from my current wip is my favorite, mostly because he isn't perfect yet learns to love in a way that surprised me too :)

Loved your excerpt: your incredibly beautiful prose caught my full attention immediately! I believe you're scheduled to appear at my blog soon--can't wait to see you there!

Joanna Aislinn
www.joannaaislinn.com
www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Joanna, and thanks for your lovely words. Yes, I think I'll be on your blog the last week of December. I'll more about Aedan, too, if you want. He like all this attention.

Keena Kincaid said...

Anna, thanks for letting me visit. I really enjoyed it. I'll be blogging about TIES THAT BIND all week at Long and Short Reviews. I'm talking about the heroine, Tess, Lady of Bridswell. While Aedan is wild and reckless, she is centered and thoughtful, and somehow able to calm his restless. Come meet her at http://www.longandshortarchives.blogspot.com/

Thanks again!
Keena

TIES THAT BIND--from The Wild Rose Press
http://keenakincaid.com

Detra said...

I have always enjoyed flawed heroes or heroines. Laura Kinsale did this to me when I was a teenager. She always gave the hero or heroine a handicap and always had an animal in the story somehow. All I insist upon is the HEA. Oh, and NO cliff-hanger endings. *Insert my frown here.*

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Detra. I agree with the HEA. As an author, though, I really enjoy the challenge of getting from major flaws to HEA.

Keena Kincaid said...

And the winner of the copy of TIES THAT BIND is...

SKHYE!

Woo hoo! Thanks for the comments, everyone, and for joining me on my blog tour to celebrate my book.

Keena