Anyone here a fan of tormented characters? *sheepishly raises hand* Yep. I am. While I cannot stand drama and angst for drama and angst’s sake, I do love a character who wrestles with deep moral questions, with their calling, with their past, with choices they’ve made, and with their gifts. Because as a deeply introspective person, I can really relate to that character. I can see myself wrestling with the same thing if I were in their shoes, and man, don’t those characters and their stories just tear your heart out?
Today’s post is a peek behind the scenes at one such tormented character, Haydn (from Shadows of the Hersweald), and we have the author herself coming to spill all of poor Haydn’s deepest, darkest secrets.
Okay, first though, let’s address the elephant in the room. (Greetings, oh thou of long trunk and baggy trousers.) I know there have been a lot of guest posts lately (awesome guest posts!) because I’ve had a lot of exciting authors to share with you guys! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to balance out all those awesome guest posts with original content because it’s been a bit of a hectic season. Good hectic. But hectic. Deets later, I promise!
In the mean time, make sure you tune in because one is a really fun post from a fellow fantasy fan and author, Hope Ann!
Burning Rose is a compilation of fairy-tale retellings in novella form.
A forbidden rose and deadly sacrifice.
A glittering sword and living melody.
A stolen stormestone and detestable pardon.
The war in Aslaria, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.
Sound fascinating? Shadows of the Hersweald is one of those novellas and the one we’re focusing on today!
A battered soldier from a defeated army, Haydn knows the only end to the arrival of the Prince’s governor is chains, followed by punishment and possible execution. Except he hasn’t counted on the Prince himself. Or the pardon which his recent foe has declared to acquit all those who fought against him. A pardon Haydn detests. A pardon that refuses to punish the rebels now threatening his own village. And his sister.
Guilt-ridden from his own actions during the war, Haydn knows there are others who have no conscience at all. Others who are using the freedom of the pardon to forward their own desperate schemes. With enemies closing in on all sides, a pardon that refuses punishment, and nightmares of murder and fire haunting his every thought, will Haydn recognize the truth or will his fear condemn everything he loves to destruction?
MEET THE AUTHOR: HOPE ANN
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration.
Find out more at: authorhopeann.com
Meet Haydn: brother, rebel, outlaw
Haydn was the first really tormented character I wrote, and I probably enjoyed writing him too much. He almost didn’t happen. In the first draft of Shadows of the Hersweald, Haydn was a nice, gentle, faithful (and somewhat boring) side character in a story about his sister. But after writing the whole novella once, I knew I was missing something. Turns out I was missing the real Haydn. The story wasn’t about his sister at all; rather it was about a young, battle-scarred soldier struggling to come to terms with his own actions during the war that tore Aslaria apart for two years.
Source: Pinterest (character from the 100 show)
He was wrong; it’s easy for him to see that now. But the fact he fought alongside the rebels against the king, or even the fact that he lost, is hardly the worst of it.
The worst part is the pardon.
He knows what he did to the helpless. He knows that others are worse than him. And he knows none of them deserve forgiveness.
Haydn stilled the trembling of his hand as he took the parchment, but fury reverberated through his voice. “What do you know of security? Of how the Prince protects his own? You understand nothing, for all your time in the Prince’s army.” His voice was hoarse. “There are some who don’t deserve a pardon.” With a quick flick of his wrist, he tore the parchment in two, ignoring Gorawen’s soft gasp. “If the Prince wants peace to follow his victory, this is not the way to go about it.”
It doesn’t help that the son of the returning governor of the Prince was once a close friend. Nearly the same age, Haydn and Traveon used to sneak their way into all sorts of scrapes. They were rarely caught … until the last time. Haydn still bears the scars that even his friend’s tears were unable to stop.
Traveon sighed. “That is all I get? Two years at war on opposite sides, and you won’t give me more than two words?”
Haydn dragged his gaze upward.
Traveon raised one eyebrow. “Come now. I don’t look that bad.”
Haydn snorted, but his lips curved into a faint smile. “You look like you spent the last year scrounging for food in the Hersweald. Didn’t the Prince’s army feed you?”
“More than they fed you, apparently.” Traveon took a step forward, holding out a hand. “As for sleep, however…”
Haydn clasped his comrade’s sinewy forearm. “We kept you busy?” He smirked.
“Oh, no. It was trying to figure out how to deal with blockheads like you once the war was over that kept us around the fires.” Traveon shook his head, but his smile faded. “What were you thinking? I mean, I’ve seen you do foolish things—”
“Most of which you helped me with,” Haydn reminded him.
“So you liked to claim.” Traveon scowled. “But the Prince’s pardon? Really? Do you know how hard it will be to keep my father from arresting you just for that?”
With Haydn’s step-sister, Gorawen, betrothed to Traveon from before the war, it doesn’t take long for conflicting emotions to spiral out in all directions. The Prince’s sacrifice and pardon is nothing but foolishness. Haydn deserves chains. He deserves death. And he’s quite ready to surrender to them so long as he knows the world will be swept clean of all who served the enemy. Except Haydn was there when the Prince died. The Prince’s gaze still pierces his dreams. The man had been no fool.
Struggling against rogue rebels roaming the mountains, a governor who is only there because it is his duty, and a murderer disguised as a legendary protector, Haydn only has one goal: keep those he loves safe even if it means his own destruction.
Thanks, Hope! Haydn sounds like a fascinating conflicted character! I’m looking forward to reading about him.
Now, I’d love to hear from you guys! (And this time, I’m going to answer too in the comments below!)
- Do you enjoy reading about tormented or conflicted characters?
- Do you have a favorite example of a conflicted character?
- And, if you’re a writer, have you ever had a similar experience with a side character who demanded a deeper look and a larger part of the story?