Stephen Zimmer's Heart of a Lion Virtual Tour
The Creation of a New Heroine
Rayden Valkyrie truly flowed into my mind at once. When I was going through some very difficult times in my own life, I had an image of a golden-haired female warrior with piercing blue eyes standing resolute, proud, defiant, and tall. I knew that this figure had been through hell but still abided by a high honor code that reflected the fact that the storms of her life had not hardened her to indifference.
Her storyline and world rushed in around that image, but looking back on it all I do have some insights about what is important for a heroine who is literally the most critical component of a book like Heart of a Lion.
A heroine is, at their foundation, still a character. Whether or not the author reveals everything in a given book or story, I do feel an author should have an understanding of a character's personal history, their personality, and the code, personal values, or set of beliefs they operate by.
The history of any person incorporates their life experience, which is what teaches, informs, guides, and often forges the substance of a person. Their personality affects how they interact with their world along the way, and they are guided by the code or set of values that they hold at a given moment. The latter can change or evolve along the way, often affected by that life experience.
The heroine still has to have all of that, and then they have to have something more, something that sets them apart and makes them heroic. It does not have to involve fighting ability, but it does have to involve the will to step up when the situation calls for it and do so despite great risk, opposition or danger.
With Rayden Valkyrie, I think that drives off of the honor code that she has come to embrace and live by. A lot has not yet been told of her back story, but suffice it to say that she has truly been through a great deal of tragedy and pain and she has found a way to reach down deep and keep going without having it alter her in a negative way. The essence of her heroism is that she keeps moving forward, grows stronger as a person, and her spirit remains intact despite terrible adversity.
That ability to forge ahead and live consistently by a strong honor code is a big part of what makes Rayden heroic, as that code and will to endure is a big part of why she does step forward to protect the vulnerable, preyed-upon folks in the world. It is girded by compassion and kindness, though none should mistake those things for weaknesses. She has the will to act, no matter if it will incur the wrath of an entire city guard or empire, as readers of Heart of a Lion will come to appreciate.
Everything that she has been through, learned, and experienced has helped to make her the person she is at a given point in a story, whether in Heart of a Lion or the short story she debuted in, “All the Lands, Nowhere a Home”, from the Thunder on the Battlefield: Sword anthology. I think it is very important to bring those formative elements out in the storytelling, even if all of them cannot be tackled at once in a specific tale.
The focus, therefore, is on who she is, which fuels what she does. Developing a strong heroine has to establish that in a concise way in order to make the conquering of fears, the courage to step forward, and the ability to follow-through against daunting odds or grave danger fully effective.
Give the heroine a history, show the strengths they've maintained during that history, show the values they've developed during that history, and then let them live and breath on the page. The more real they become, the more real their heroic acts will resonate.
One day I should love to know more of Rayden's backstory. At the moment, it's part of what makes her so interesting to me as a reader - she's a real character, with history, and I'll have to get to know her more before she'll trust me to know that history. It feels right, and it makes for a really good book - I'm looking forward to more.
About Stephen Zimmer: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.
About Rayden Valkyrie: She walks alone, serving no king, emperor, or master. Forged in the fires of tragedy, she has no place she truly calls home.
A deadly warrior wielding both blade and axe, Rayden is the bane of the wicked and corrupt. To many others, she is the most loyal and dedicated of friends, an ally who is unyielding in the most dangerous of circumstances.
The people of the far southern lands she has just aided claim that she has the heart of a lion. For Rayden, a long journey to the lands of the far northern tribes who adopted her as a child beckons, with an ocean lying in between.
Her path will lead her once more into the center of a maelstrom, one involving a rising empire that is said to be making use of the darkest kinds of sorcery to grow its power. Making new friends and discoveries amid tremendous peril, Rayden makes her way to the north.
Monstrous beasts, supernatural powers, and the bloody specter of war have been a part of her world for a long time and this journey will be no different. Rayden chooses the battles that she will fight, whether she takes up the cause of one individual or an entire people.
Both friends and enemies alike will swiftly learn that the people of the far southern lands spoke truly. Rayden Valkyrie has the heart of a lion.
Heart of a Lion is Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.
Amazon Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Stephen-Zimmer/dp/1941706215
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Dark-Dawn-Book-ebook/dp/B00T44R6LE
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-of-a-lion-stephen-zimmer/1121113044?ean=9781941706213
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