My guest is romance author, Elisabeth Naughton. Her topic is one of interest because as writers we do have a plan when it comes to our characters and our stories. Sometimes the story is better served when we allow input from our beta readers or critique partner, even when the suggestions take us in a different direction than we first planned.
Gryphon: The Dead Hero
Thank so much to Sia for inviting me to stop by during release month for ENSLAVED, the fifth book in my Eternal Guardians series. I’m super excited to be here talking about the series and my hero who almost wasn't…Gryphon.
For those of you who don’t know me…I write the bestselling Eternal Guardians series about a group of gifted warriors all descended from the heroes of Greek mythology. They protect their realm and the human world from threats born of the Underworld, specifically one evil goddess with a bad attitude. Gryphon, one of these warriors, has been in every book in the series, but it wasn't all unicorns and sunshine for this guardian. No, he’s been to hell and back—literally. You see, Gryphon spent three months in the Underworld being tortured by Hades and his father Kronos, so in every way possible, he’s the tortured hero (again, literally) of the group. His story is all about coming back from the brink of insanity and becoming who he was meant to be. But originally, I didn't set out to write him this way.
I am an author who believes in writing reality. It’s not realistic that seven warriors span time and realms and battle evil again and again, only to triumph at each turn with no loss of life. Even the best warriors die in battle – look at Achilles! So originally, I planned to kill Gryphon off. I had his death scene all planned out. It was to happen in TEMPTED, book three in the series. He was going to take a mortal blow by sword in an attempt to rescue the heroine of that book. The hero in that story would ultimately be responsible for his death because his actions contributed to Gryphon’s death. It was going to add even more angst to an already angst-ridden story. But when I started to write that death scene, and my critique partner—author Joan Swan—caught wind of it, she freaked out.
I believe her words were, “You cannot kill Gryphon! If you do I will never speak to you again! Your readers will never speak to you again!”
Harsh words from a usually even-keel person. I considered. However, it wasn't realistic that everyone always survives!
And then….after much thought…I realized that realistic in the paranormal world is different from realistic in the real world. Gryphon didn't have to die…exactly. I could simulate death—even simulate torture in the afterlife—all while leaving a thread of hope for his resurrection. This is paranormal…anything can happen! In the end, I wrote it so his body was possessed by a power-hungry warlock and his soul was sent to the Underworld. The hero of TEMPTED was still blamed for Gryphon’s tragedy, the rest of the Eternal Guardians still didn't know if Gryphon would ever be rescued, and it still added in a whole new level of angst and betrayal to an already dark and emotional story. But it added something else. Something I didn't expect. It gave me a brand new storyline to explore in future books.
Gryphon’s imprisonment in the Underworld led to book four - ENRAPTURED – and a brother’s quest to rescue Gryphon from the Underworld. Then it culminated in ENSLAVED – a story where Gryphon is now free, but changed in every way imaginable. Can someone survive that kind of torture? Can a man so mentally and emotionally scarred learn to live in the real (er, paranormal) world again? If I’d killed Gryphon off in TEMPTED, I’d never know. Because my critique partner saved his life, readers can now answer that question for themselves.
One of the fun parts about writing—for me—is that things don’t always happen exactly the way I plan. Over the years I've learned to be open to changes. Yes, I wanted to kill Gryphon off for the storyline in TEMPTED to work, but I accomplished the same thing by sparing him. And my readers got so much more out of the fact he lived. When I sit down to write, I usually have a vision of where I want to end up. Getting there is always the fun part. For me it means taking characters to the brink, sometimes pushing them off, but more often than not pulling them back and giving them a reason to become more than they ever were before. And after all, isn't living up to ones destiny the true definition of a happily ever after? I think it is.
I've got a copy of ENSLAVED to give away to one lucky commenter. Just ask me anything about me or my books in the comments to be entered to win!
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ELISABETH NAUGHTON–IN STORES NOVEMBER 2012
GRYPHON–Honorable, loyal, dependable...tainted.
He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can't ignore. She calls to him. Come to me. You can't resist. But Cryphon will not allow himself to be ruled by the insidious whispers in his head. And there's only one way to stop them: kill Atalanta, the goddess who enslaved him. But with so much darkness inside, he can't be sure what's real anymore, Even the Eternal Guardians, those who protect the human realms and the gods, want to exile him.
Finding Malea is like a miracle. Somehow he doesn't feel the pull of the dark when she's near. And he's determined to keep her as near as possible, whether she wants him close or not. But she's a temptation that will test every bit of control he has left. One that may ultimately have the power to send him back to the Underworld...or free him from his chains for good. EXCERPT
“Creative worldbuilding and ever-present danger pull the reader into this mesmerizing tale.” —RT Book Reviews, 4-½ star review of Enraptured
A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test-tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full-time from Oregon, where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the RWA RITA© Award, the NJ RWA Golden Leaf, and the RWA Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park, or dreaming up new and adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com and follow her on Twitter, @ElisNaughton.