This past Saturday I spent my day at the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. This was one of the first panels I attended. The topic was of the panel was Unlikely Heroes: the panelists were Morgan Baden, Rena Barron, and Clarie Legrand.
Morgan Baden is most famous for her Daphne and Velma books, Daphne and Velma: The Dark Deception; Daphne and Velma: Buried Secrets. Rena Barron is most famous for her Kingdom of Souls series for young adults.s and her Maya and the Rising Dark Series for middle grade. Claire Legrand is best known for her New York Times bestselling Empirium trilogy, which includes Furyborn and Lightbringer.
Moderator: Where do you what a hero should be like comes from?
Barron: Viewing habits growing up. and all superheroes can be deeply flawed and can be slowly better.
Moderator: Are you trying to write characters as heroes as you are writing them?
Legrand: I set out to write complex female protagonist if they happen to be a heroes it happens.
Barron: If the character is thinking they are a hero things are different. Heroes make rash choices because of family and country.
Moderator: Does every story have a hero?
Not sure who brought this up: Do hero and protagonist mean the same thing?
Claire Legrand: Every story has multiple heroes. The antagonists think they are the heroes. This is a good way to add empathy to the villain to show why they think they are the heroes.
The panel then got into the discussion on why some readers found certain characters unlikeable. The authors agreed that these characters were just complicated or messy characters. That the dislike was something deeper, they questioned why readers didn’t like them. They asked why we wanted to see an unlikeable character. That perhaps unlikeable characters are expressions of our own biasas.
They noted that you could write as many unlikeable characters as you want, just make sure your story has a counter
It was a very interesting panel about the inner workings of character and what to do when a book presents you with an unlikely situation.