Stranger Of Tempest author Tom Lloyd on writing heroes

Author Tom Lloyd on the importance of a hero’s humanity

The Making of a Hero

Looking back on how Lynx came to be the man he is in Stranger Of Tempest, I couldn’t help but cast my over of the two leading men who’d preceded him.

First there was Isak, first written when I was a teenager. Isak was a caricature of a stroppy teenager in many ways – very little malice in him, but the world had left him with a power he couldn’t control and a temper he usually struggled to. Yes there’s some playing with the Chosen One trope, but he was always intended to be an extreme of the average irrational, angry, bewildered teenager – highlighting every time he failed to control the tangle of emotions and impulses inside him by resulting in spectacular and often catastrophic impact on people around him.

Next came Narin, not a teenager anymore and far more average that Isak. He’s not rich, particularly skilled or driven, he’s just a man trying to find his place in the world and still possessing a young man’s outrage at an unfair world. He struggles to adapt to a change in his own private world, especially when something as terrifying as a baby comes along, but is honestly trying.

And now we have Lynx – a little older and rounder than Narin perhaps, a little more world-weary, but also a little more accepting/understanding of his place in the world. He’s got something of Isak’s past, but he doesn’t want to be that guy any more. He knows he’s been marked by all he’s done and seen, but is trying to ensure that’s not the only thing that defines him.

This led me on to one more thought. As most people know there’s a pretty toxic archetype of manliness in fiction – the hyper-masculine, mysterious warrior who’s disconnected from the world but occasionally swings by to save the day. Mad Max is just one example of many – a twisted ideal of manliness that forgets humanity. As a child of the Eighties it something I grew up seeing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good myth to perpetuate. Just look at the kids shooting up their schools – they’ve been fed a steady diet of loners solving problems with a gun and emerging to a hero’s applause.

I realise now that Lynx is one of those, but one who’s trying to grow up and be a real boy again. Who’s damaged and distanced himself from the world, but nevertheless recognises that without other people, he’ll become a monster – a shell of a person without humanity. In short, everything he hates. Now I’m by nature a bit of a loner, but I’ve recognised that it doesn’t do you any good. You can’t just accept and embrace a tag like that. Particularly Isak could go that way, he’s more than aware how easy it would be to lose his humanity and it’s the people around him who anchor him.

In a genre of heroes and anti-heroes, the difference between man and monster can be just the thickness of a human relationship. Characters and authors alike forget that at their peril.


Stranger Of Tempest by Tom Lloyd is available now from Gollancz. Keep up with the latest genre news with the new issue of SciFiNow.