So, I’m apart of this here anthology, Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology, which is pretty darn cool. No, now that I think about it, I think it’s momentous enough for a full swear. Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology is pretty DAMN cool. Especially considering I read Michael Sullivan and Will Wight before I even published my first book, so to be included in an anthology with them is a high honor. Not that rubbing shoulders with the other folks ain’t great. There’s some really cool stories in this thing written by some very familiar faces. And those that aren’t familiar should become so shortly. Loads of talent here. And me somehow.
My character (the kobold) even made the cover!
This is my first time to be included in an anthology, so I thought I’d explore the experience.
Firstly, I’ve only written based on a prompt once before. Which now that I think about it, I just repurposed a story for/ from (which I can't link to since Wix updated their blog interface, but was the short story The Boy Swallowed by the Sea), so I guess this is my first time to write to a prompt (commissioned screenwriting doesn’t quite count since the producers had more input into the story). And, I’m not going to lie, “Heroes Wanted” was not my favorite prompt. It just felt too cut and dry initially.
However, as the stories will demonstrate, all the authors interpreted it in different ways. Which was pretty cool. I’m only halfway through the 600+ page FREE BOOK (you should get it by the way), and we run the gamut from the straight up hero from the storybooks to some pretty cool underdogs including a guy with a club foot and a Victorian woman in hiding at a brothel.
For me though, there was really no other choice than an anti-hero. That’s my wheelhouse after all. And as much as I want as many straight-up, archetypical heroes walking around in the real world, I took a different route than most.
For one, I didn’t use this anthology as a lead in to my own universe like a lot of the others did. Which, in retrospect, was a rookie mistake on my part. The anthology is a chance to showcase a sample of your work after all. And, as not a huge fan of the short story medium due to the constraints of word count, it did make me approach my storytelling from a different angle. I’m a firm believer in using every aspect of the medium, and for me the short story is an exercise in either 1) elegant prose, 2) a great twist, 3) humor. As I’ve always been unsatisfied with my ability in the former and have been told that the demographic that shares my sense of humor can fit within a single room, I reckoned I should focus on the middle one.
I won’t give any spoilers here, but that’s why I chose to center my story around a kobold, which are usually in the monster races section of your D&D manual. Heroics, to crib a quote from Obi Wan, is often a matter of perspective, so I thought I’d explore what it means to be a hero from a non-human perspective. Which is a complete 180 degree turn when you consider things from the traditional villain’s point of view.
Which leads me to Dakbe, my erstwhile kobold hero. This was a random generated name from some D&D website, but he’s really grown on me as a character as the story unfolded. I like that although he’s wearing armor, he’s a thinking-creature’s protagonist. He’s all about knowledge and linguistics, which was an odd, organic outgrowth of the writing process. I had no intention of making his word choice matter as much as it did, but really enjoyed how his acting as a translator added nuance to the story. Which probably reflects me as an author there. This is the first time in what seems like forever that I tossed any idea of a beat treatment aside, kept the entire outline in my head, and just sat down to write. Everything that ended up in the story is a product of two nights sitting down and seeing what happened when I put an undefined character into a strange situation.
And, ultimately, I think it worked out pretty darn well. Nay, damn well.
Anyways, I wrote a paragraph and then deleted it because I realized it gave away too much there. Ugh, and then another sentence here.
So I guess that means I should sign off. But before I go, let me just say that you should check out Is Dumb in the Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology. I believe it’s the shortest story of all of them, clocking in around 4k words (about 16 pages). So here’s to hoping I made those few words count.
Also, check out the rest of the stories. It’s free after all and available everywhere, not just Amazon.