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Turning an Anti-Hero into a Hero


I just finished chapter 14 of Deliverance, and Carl has hit rock bottom. He’s had a revelation of how badly he’s let himself and his family down, and how far he has to go to turn his life around. Lucky for him, Naomi is there to help him pick up the pieces.

My first two heroes, Trey McShannon and Martin Rainnie, were nice guys. Liam Cochrane from Shattered has his peccadilloes, but he’s a decent man underneath it all. Carl O’Neill is my first fictional hero – make that anti-hero – who starts out with few redeeming qualities.

As a secondary character in Shattered, Carl is hot-tempered, belligerent and mean, to the point of physically abusing his sister. Granted the abuse happens during a PSTD blackout when he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and his emotionally abusive, alcoholic father didn’t provide him with much of a role model growing up, but altogether Carl’s a man a good girl wouldn’t take home to Mother unless Mother wasn’t home. His saving virtues are honesty and loyalty. He doesn’t have it in him to break his word or betray a friend, even though he’s not very good at telling who’s deserving of friendship and who isn’t. He lies out of self-preservation, but he doesn’t fake emotions or make promises he can’t keep. Naomi recognizes that basic honesty, and her trust brings out the best in him – including gentleness Carl never suspected he had. That’s why I chose You Say It Best by Alison Krauss for their theme song.

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There’s a truth in your eyes that says you’ll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

So what do you think? How much are you willing to forgive in a fictional hero, and under what circumstances?