Guest author blog: A. Lee Martinez on creating Constance Verity - SciFiNow

Guest author blog: A. Lee Martinez on creating Constance Verity

To celebrate the release of Constance Verity Destroys the Universe, the final book in his adventure trilogy, A. Lee Martinez tells us why he wanted an unrealistic hero as his protagonist…

Constance Verity Destroys the Universe

What makes a character interesting? Is it their flaws, their limitations? Nobody likes perfect characters who can do everything and handle any problem.

This wasn’t always how it was though. There was a time, during the days of daring pulp adventure, when amazing protagonists dominated the genre. From Doc Savage to John Carter to Tarzan, these incredible heroes were more than a match for anything they came across. They were braver, more clever, more physically gifted, and just plain better than any opponent that dared challenge them.

Tarzan not only had the physical gifts to fight off apes and lions, he also taught himself to read using only books left behind by his dead parents. John Carter was teleported to Mars, and in the space of a few days, he was already on his way to becoming warlord. Doc Savage was a paragon of morality, strength, and intelligence. The tradition lives on in Batman: the billionaire, detective, martial artist, athlete, ninja, scientist, engineer. People are fond of saying Batman is only a man in a world full of superhumans, but I’d say being all those things in one package is definitely a superpower.

I created Constance Verity as a deliberate throwback to those heroes of old.

Connie can fight better than you. She knows how to tame a tiger, how to wrestle a bear, how to pilot a spaceship and defuse a bomb. She’s been to outer space, the hollow earth, and alternate universes. She’s led intergalactic rebellions, done some crimebusting in Chicago, and faced down too many unnameable cosmic horrors to keep track of. Connie is a grab bag of every adventure a pulp hero might have, and she’s come out sane and in one piece. Constance saves the world a lot, and she does it with style and grace and complete confidence in her talents to do so.

Is it realistic? Absolutely not.

As a writer who has made his bread-and-butter by writing about robots, aliens, and sympathetic moon-devouring monsters, it’s perhaps not surprising that I think realism is an overrated literary requirement. Blame it on my upbringing. Mom never once told me to put down the comic books or to stop watching cartoons. When I discovered a love of kaiju cinema, she was the one who took me to the drive in. In the days of video rental, she never stood between me and whatever low-budget monster or sci-fi movie I was drawn to.

This is not ironic enjoyment. No guilty pleasures here. It fostered a love for what you can do when you put aside reality and open up worlds that are decidedly unrealistic. Such stories carry an underappreciated power. Some will label it escapism, but I’ve never enjoyed that title. It is dismissive. It’s also ludicrous. Reality can’t be escaped. It’s all around us all the time, but we need to be bound by it in our fiction.

Connie’s life is one of infinite possibilities, and she handles it in a way only a fictional character could. Is it wish fulfillment on my part? Maybe. Who wouldn’t want to be able to solve any problem they came across, have the unlimited skills and talents necessary to tame the unpredictable elements of their day-to-day life? I doubt I’ll ever have to fight a dinosaur, but if I did, I know it would be a very short fight indeed.

Realism was never my goal with Connie. Relatability is. We all feel that pressure to keep our world from falling apart. We all feel overwhelmed sometimes. We all struggle with our doubts. We all wrestle with feeling in control of our lives. So does Connie. It’s only a touch more literal with her. Like all of us, Connie does the best she can with what she has, taking it one day at a time. Her days just involve more ninjas, time travelers, and necromancers than most of us.

And that’s why I love writing about her.

Want to spend some more time with Connie? Book three of A. Lee Martinez’s trilogy, Constance Verity Destroys the Universe, is out now and we have THREE copies to give away! Simply answer the question below before the closing date of 15 March…

*** Competition Expired ***

The Last Adventures of Constance Verity, Constance Verity Saves the World and Constance Verity Destroys the Universe is out now from Jo Fletcher