Good news everyone! We have a guest post from Neil Rochford, the author of The Blue Ridge Project. So let’s just right in:
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Hello out there! I’m Neil Rochford, author of The Blue Ridge Project and deeply flawed human being masquerading as a normal. I’d like to share with you all why I think it’s important for our characters to have flaws…
Ever since I was a kid I’ve always had an active imagination. Some might say it’s too active, as whenever I wasn’t reading or watching something on TV I was daydreaming. I used to love inventing my own stories, sometimes using the characters I found elsewhere, and other times creating my own using those as templates. These stories would usually involve the hero or heroes – acting as my avatars in these youthful fantasies – vanquishing all enemies and defeating all obstacles with little to no effort, winning the day every time. Satisfying as these headcanons were, whenever I tried to put these stories to paper they would fizzle out really quickly. In the back of my mind, I always wondered why my favourite fictional characters never had the same easy time during their adventures yet I ended up enjoying those tales more.
When I “grew up” and started seriously learning about writing, I found out what it was that was lacking. My perfect and unstoppable heroes were boring, flat and uninteresting beyond the initial coolness of what they could do. Those characters that I loved and lived for? All possessed of at least one big character flaw that fed into the plot of the story. The badass cop saving the day who drinks too much, can’t keep his marriage together and pisses off everybody from the boss to the cleaners. The wandering knight/cowboy/samurai who cannot open himself up to others, ensuring he ends up lonely on his travels. The fighter so sure of himself that he can’t realize when his opponent is better than him, and loses. The leader with the best plans who is brought low by their obsessive attraction to a member of the opposite sex, or some other vice. Sometimes there was more than one flaw, and sometimes there was a host of them, turning them into antiheroes or close enough to the line that it didn’t matter.
Granted, a good number of these are considered clichéd tropes by now, but in the right hands can still be effective (see: Rust Cohle, Jimmy McNulty). We don’t have to hang our hats on the same old hat stands, though. With all the progress made in the study of human behaviour and the mind, storytellers are privy to new insights regarding what could believably make a person behave in a self-destructive way. Coupled with a plot that reflects and intertwines with those flaws, these characters become real in our minds and take up residence in our hearts, living on after the last page or the final scene, warts and all. I think it’s because we recognize our own shortcomings, albeit in differing degrees depending on the person’s ego. Sometimes we’re hard on ourselves for the things we do, deservedly or not, and the catharsis in seeing a character suffer the consequences of their actions or inactions makes those stories attractive, even more so when said characters make it out the other side. It kindles a hope in us, however fanciful, that we too can face our flaws, if not overcome them, and go on to live our lives better than we did in the chapters that came before.
That, and because those badass flawed heroes are just so cool. Who never wanted to be John McClane?
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Neil Rochford is a freelance writer who loves fiction where bad things happen. After more than five years traveling from continent to continent and a few short stories, he finally got to work on his first book, and hopes to continue writing as many as he can. Originally from Ireland, he speaks three languages and has lived in Estonia, Brazil, France and Spain. He is a staff writer for the popular Irish podcast and website Those Conspiracy Guys.
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More about The Blue Ridge Project
Genre: Dark Suspense/Paranormal
Book Description: Conspiracy. Murder. Secret experiments. Mind control. A detective, a journalist and a rich deviant struggle with their pasts as their actions set them on a collision course with each other and The Project. Detective Andrea Nox has been asked to quietly investigate a bizarre and violent murder- suicide that could have consequences for Beacon City and the people in charge. Dead ends and odd clues are hindering her efforts, and when another similar murder occurs, she has to juggle the investigation and her own troubled past with the Beacon City Police Department.
Journalist Robert Duncan is visiting home after a personal crisis when the unthinkable happens, and secrets are unearthed about his family and his place in it. His involvement in a dangerous and far-reaching conspiracy grows as he uncovers information that implicates powerful people in horrible crimes.
Frank Mortimer, disturbed son of a wealthy and influential family, is taking part in an experimental program that has promised to make him better. However, with the shadowy and powerful group known only as The Project behind the program, what he is getting better at could prove disastrous for everyone else, as a dangerous power is unlocked inside him…
Their paths will converge in a shocking story of murder, conspiracy and clandestine experiments taking place that could change the world.
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