Excerpt and Essay from Darkwalker, by E. L. Tettensor
Writing an antihero is a tricky business. By definition, s/he is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. To qualify as an antihero, a character has to fall short in some important way, to be flawed in comparison not only to a classic hero, but to readers as well. Morally challenged (Walter White), or rash and pig-headed (Starbuck), or indecisive to the point of paralysis (uh... Hamlet?). Not everyone can get behind a protagonist like that. When you write one, you're pretty much resigned to the fact that a certain chunk of the reading public may not like your character. Maybe they'll pick up the book, read the back cover, and think, "Pass."
When you look at it from that angle, why would anyone debut their writing career with an antihero?
I have no idea.
What I can say is that there was never any question of Nicolas Lenoir being Mr. Congeniality. It just wouldn't work. A mind as incisive as Lenoir's is going to see flaws everywhere. That's the thing about critical thinking. It's, well...critical. Add to that a dark past and a heavy dose of self-loathing—both of which were essential to the story—and you have the recipe for an antihero. You can't make a classic hero out of those ingredients, any more than you can make angel food cake out of chili peppers. (But you can mix chocolate and chili, and the result is complex and delicious. And I'm going to drop this food metaphor now, because I'm getting hungry.)
So, will the antihero of Darkwalker be your cup of tea? To help you decide, here's a list of five things you need to know about Inspector Nicolas Lenoir:
- He's the smartest person in the room. In his mind, at least.
- He doesn't believe in redemption—least of all for him.
- Wherever you come from, Lenoir's hometown is better. You're just going to have to trust him on this.
- Words are weapons, but silence is power.
- We all have our demons, but his are darker. And in the room. Right now.
Lenoir might not be a saint, but he has an advantage in the company he keeps. To look taller, the BBC's Sherlock Holmes takes "the precaution of a good coat and a short friend." Lenoir, too, has a proper detective's coat, and as for his friends...he might just be a saint after all.