She has written a guest blog post for Unbound Worlds detailing why—sometimes—killing the parents and creating an orphan might not be the right decision for your protagonist.
Read below. Great stuff for writers as well as readers!
Ashes of the Tyrant is out now!
AUTHOR ERIN M. EVANS
The easy answer is to kill the parents.
Fairy tales know it. YA knows it. You want your protagonist to shine, to tell their own story and make their own mistakes, to have a little extra motivation? Well, all it takes is a thug in a dark alley, a tragic illness, or better yet the shadowy villain you don’t know is waiting.
For three straight books of my Brimstone Angels Saga, my editor suggested it might be time to kill Mehen, the adoptive father of my twin main characters. Every time I hit a bump trying to write this character—a character who’s not me in more ways than I can count, leaving aside his traditional role as “Rapidly Cooling Motivation”—my editor would point out that sometimes “bumps” mean you’re going about things wrong, and start sharpening the knives.
But part of that stubbornness, I suspect is that with the Brimstone Angels Saga, I’ve become a parent too. My first son, who I’ll call Tiny Mr. I, was born a week before Brimstone Angels came out. My second son, the soon-to-be Itsy Mr. E, is considering arriving as I type this (and kicking the hell out of my laptop). Someday, they’re not going to need me—does that mean my story ends? Hell no!
We all hit a point in our lives where we realize our parents are just people, when we realize they’re wrong sometimes, they make mistakes, they have wants and fears that have nothing to do at all with us. I think, with having a child, I realized that my parents were still parents too. That for all my mother knows I’m a grown woman with a mortgage and a salty vocabulary and a taste for gin; and for all I know about her online dating and her pot experimentation and the fact she does know curse words, I should still call her when my plane lands because she worries about her baby.
In Ashes of the Tyrant, Mehen’s finally facing his past, and it makes letting his daughters handle things on their own—including tracking down an interplanar murderer—all the harder. And while his daughters are charting their own courses toward the future, Mehen’s balking at figuring out who he is if he’s not the twins’ father or the scion of his clan. Writing about the three of them together gives each story a life I don’t think would have existed if it were told on its own.
Ashes of the Tyrant wouldn’t exist if I’d given him the axe back when he first started. But also Farideh’s story wouldn’t exist as it does if she didn’t have her father’s story to reflect off of.
This shifting reality of our relationships, the push and pull of the past and the future—it doesn’t have a place in every story. But man, can it take things to the next level in the right one. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles—all these potential stories make the world deeper and more real. All these characters have the possibility of making your protagonist’s arc more powerful—or even a chance of being the protagonist themselves.
Thank you for the wonderful guest post, Erin!
Ashes of the Tyrant by Erin M. Evans is in fine bookstores today! To learn more about her work, visit www.erinmevans.com!
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.” He also edited the bestselling anthology Unfettered.