Hero Complex

Published June 1, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Isaiah 40:29

I’ve always had a bit of a hero complex. That is to say, I’ve always loved heroes—both in real life and in the world of fantasy. It started at a young age when I became obsessed with Disney’s Robin Hood. I would watch that movie until someone extricated my little body from the tiny rocking chair my dad made for me, which I unfailingly scooted closer and closer to the television. Part of my fixation on that film and the heroes that followed was because of my thirst for adventure. Even when I was five I dreamt of faraway lands where I would slay the dragon and free the kingdom from a malevolent ruler. Watching the Disney heroes and princes of old defeat evil caused my imagination to make kingdoms out of my backyard and wild beasts of our dog. Everything was an adventure to me, and those heroes gave me confidence that little kids—and foxes alike—could prevail over even the most imposing forces.

As we’ve previously established, I have a fairly wild imagination; if I have an idea in my head, I can usually entertain myself for hours imaging and building on that singular thought. That’s one of the reasons why I love writing so much: I can take all these ideas and fantasies and weave them together for someone else to enjoy and live, if only in their imagination. I must reluctantly admit that I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and I don’t know a girl out there who hasn’t dreamt of being rescued by a prince . . . or an enigmatic hooded hero (but that might be just me).

I don’t really know where the somewhat unrealistic desire to be saved from a band rogue invaders in a dark forest emerged from—probably from absorbing copious amounts of fantasy and expanding on it with my imagination, but we won’t go there for now. I love journeys where valiant gentlemen and wounded men search for the light in a black sea. Circumstances inevitably reveal their inner hero as they draw courage to face the darkness surrounding them. But damsels in distress aren’t the only ones who need to be rescued: everyone needs saving, even the most valiant of heroes with all their courage and strength. Sometimes all their valor and human strength isn’t enough to save the maiden or themselves, and they have to rely on others and God to help them prevail.

I love writing about courageous heroes who have to swallow their pride and call on the aid of others, which you will discover when my book comes out. But Rising Shadows didn’t originally start out that way, though: it was a short story final for my creative writing class with only Sarah, Lilly, and Karen as the main characters. I will go into more detail another time about the full back story of Rising Shadows (previously The Shadow, and in its earliest stages Bethany Lane), but suffice it to say that an afternoon of watching BBC’s Robin Hood definitely inspired me to add a certain pivotal character and his journey to the story years later. The Ultimate Hero saved me years ago on the cross, but it doesn’t hurt to write a little fantasy inspired by the biggest sacrifice and most courageous Hero the world will ever know. I do my best to create endearing characters and strong men of valor, but if you look at the two side by side, my heroes and their sacrifices pale in comparison.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

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