Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Book Stuff and Protagonists

Just got back from meeting with Chris, Angie, Patrick, and Roberta, at Shadow Mountain headquarters. For those of you who haven’t been there, it’s right across from Temple Square in Salt Lake. Next door is where they are rebuilding the whole downtown mall area. I could sit in their conference room all day and watch the construction equipment work. What is it about watching other people work that is so relaxing? Apparently I’m becoming enough of a regular now that the older gentleman at the front desk recognizes me. (Hey, I’ll take whatever fleeting fame I can get!)

Anyway, the purpose of the meeting was to finalize my tour schedule, go over my school presentation, and—as a surprise—they gave me an actual dust jacket for Water Keep. Whoo hoo!
So here’s the official tour schedule. September 22 and 23rd I will be in Houston. On the 24th and 25th, I will be in Phoenix. And the 26th I will be in Portland. The following week I will be in Pleasant Hill, Ca, Roseville, CA, and Bountiful, Utah. This is still subject to a little bit of change, but if any of you are in those areas and would like to schedule an event, let me know. Also if you have contacts in the PTA in those areas, that would be much appreciated! I can’t wait. I will definitely be doing more visits during the year, so if you’ve got a great idea about where I should come, let me know.

The next thing on the agenda was my school presentation. This involved doing magic tricks in front of the whole crew, telling stories of my misspent youth, and dressing Patrick and Roberta up in capes and top hats. I have to admit the last part was pretty fun. Still working out the details of the presentation. But I can tell you it will include this picture of yours truly and his cousin. (Okay, I’ll admit it’s a pretty goofy pic. But at least it wasn’t as bad as an author who shall remain nameless. His childhood pics were apparently so bad they were pulled, for fear of frightening small children.)

Finally I got to see my actual dust jacket today. I keep running my fingers over the embossed lettering and sighing. Not sure what the other employees in my office think about this as they are keeping a provident distance.

The last item I wanted to discuss is what makes a good protagonist. Recently I posted about the ten top movie villains and got some great feedback about what makes a good villain. It was interesting how many of the best villains are women. Kathy Bates—shudder. You liked villains that weren’t as expected. Voice of the villain seemed to be a big deal, as was believable motivation.

So what makes a good protagonist? Does he or she have to be likeable? Or do we just need to empathize with them? I’m rereading Lord Foul’s bane. The protagonist, Thomas Covenant is really kind of a jerk. I mean he rapes an innocent young woman shortly after arriving in the fantasy world. But yet, we see what has turned him into such an unlikable person. His leprosy has alienated him from people so much, that the girls’ acceptance basically breaks him.

What makes a good protagonist for you?

Oh, and also a couple more fun stops on the blog tour:

Rachelle and I floated down the Snake River. If you can't tell from my books, I've got a little thing about snakes. Hope the name isn't because of the reptiles! You can read our Q&A at Rachelle Writes

An interview with the my friend and fellow author Marsha Ward of Writer in the Pines

An interview with Jewel of Jewel's World

An interview with Dominique of The Book Vault


Kimberly said...

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, eh? Is it your first time reading Stephen R. Donaldson? I read through that series every few years, despite the dark and unsettling nature of it, and I think half the reason is trying to find more redeeming qualities in Thomas Covenant himself.

There's something about the tragically flawed character, isn't there?

I actually find that I enjoy books where the protagonist is a bit of a schmuck but gets their act together in the end. There's something hope inspiring about that, even if you end up wincing a lot in the initial chapters.

Brian said...

I sent you my Q&A to answer but I'm not sure if you've received it. What should I do to get them answered.

Tamra Norton said...

So glad you're coming to Houston! YAY!

Fovorite protagonist--hands down, Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables). I'm not even sure why, but I absolutely love her.

Stonewriter said...

Just as you said about a good antagonist being something you don't expect. I think a great protagonist is the same. He/she doesn't have to be likeable at first, but he needs to grow into a character that you eventually want to cheer on. An underdog who achieves beyond his own capabilities. The common man/woman who surpasses our expectations and saves the day. A guy who is bad, but has that spark of good in him, which wins us over when he does the right thing. Even a rag tag detective that looks like a putz (Columbo) or has strange phobias (Monk) makes us love them.

DesLily said...

Oh my.. I have way too many favorite protagonists! lol...

I have the original 6 books by Donaldson on my reread list yet.. I hope to get to them before the year is over !

I've read all your tour stops to date! They are going great!!

Erica Lyn said...

I like what stonewriter said.. I like the people that you don't necessarily start out disliking, but that by the end of the story, you love them in spite of all their weird quirks or faults.. just like normal people. They can't be perfect, and they can't be TOO obnoxious, but they have to have the qualities that redeem the fact that they're human. If that makes sense..

Dan and Wendy said...

What kind of protagonist do I like? I'll start with the reverse angle of what I don't like.

I don't like protagonists that are perfect. I don't like heroes that never get hurt, especially in fantasy. Books get boring if the heroes consistently go into difficult battles, and somehow manage to ALWAYS come out unscathed.

I like imperfect heroes. I can relate to them better. They give me hope that as they have overcome their shortcomings, that maybe I can too.

I live in Phoenix. My son will love your new book. Maybe I'll surprise him by bringing to your event here.

J Scott Savage said...


I read the first trilogy back when I was in high school. But I've been reading it again to see how he handles certain aspects of his created world. It is definitely unsettling, but his descriptions are amazing.


Sorry I got a little behind on my interviews. But I am nearly caught up. I think I sent you my answers to your quetions.


Yep, Houston. Try not to have it rain on me. Gotta admit I haven't read any AOGG. Not a guy book


Good points. I think that the best protagonists are either people you can easily relate to, or people who are so different you find them fascinating. They key to having a protagonist become likeable over time is that your story has to be strong enough to carry the reader that far.


Are you going to read the new books in the series?

Erica (who is my daughter)I like your word redeeming. The protagonist has to be reedeemable.

Dan and Wendy,

That would be great. I'm scared to death of doing one of these events and having nobody show.

Michelle said...

I KNOW that San Rafael Jr High wants to see you this year, (I might have gushed about your book a little.) If you ever head down this way (Emery County)let me know. I'll set up a school visit with some really cool kids.

DesLily said...

I've have them and read them as they came out..heh. But they don't come up to the original two trilogies. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed them (which was a surprise I didn't think I would) but either too much had changed or too much time has passed that they didn't seem quite as good to me. I did like Runes of the Earth (first new one) better than the last one Fatal Revenant.

Rachelle said...

Thanks again for the interview on the wild Snake River. You're a brave soul. :)