Guest Post: The Never Hero by T. Ellery Hodges

A little while ago Todd got in contact with me to request a review of his novel, The Never Hero. He was kind enough to send me a copy in the mail so today I am featuring him on my blog. I hope you find the following interview with a fellow author interesting 🙂

Todd’s novel is available for free from the 7th through the 13th of December on Amazon. So get in quick!

Title: The Never Hero
Author: T. Ellery Hodges
Links: Amazon | Novel Website | GoodReads

Blurb:
Jonathan Tibbs is young man who has been forced to fight off an army of attackers, one at a time. However, he is caught in a predicament where no one on earth can ever be aware of his actions. If he survives an attack, time reverts back to the moment before he engages the enemy, if he dies, he ceases to exist on earth. Though filled with action and intrigue, the story centers around the question of how his choices can possibly have any meaning, when it seems that no matter what he does, the world can never know.

1. Tell us a little about The Never Hero:

I had the idea for The Never Hero when I asked myself the question: “What is wrong with men in my generation?”

There were a number of possible answers, so I tried to focus on what I felt others could relate to:
– There were no role models in the real world I wanted to emulate. In fact, I found that every person who might fit the bill was a fictional character.
– There was a disappointing sense that we go through our young lives looking for a fight worth fighting. Something that isn’t a perpetual philosophical burden, something we can look at and say: this is wrong, this is the villain, and this must be stopped.

I tried to stay true to these observations when I created Jonathan Tibbs and the circumstances he finds himself in. Still, there were other ideas I wanted to incorporate. We’ve all heard the cliché: “write the book you would want to read.” I wanted to read about a superhero making a self-sacrifice that was as pure as I could get it without sacrificing believability. The only way to do this was to create a situation where, no matter what the protagonist did, they would never get any credit for their actions. Superman leads a rough life, but at the end of the day at least the world knows he saved it. Jonathan doesn’t get this luxury.

I also wanted a hero who, though given certain abilities, had to work as hard as a normal person to be an effective opponent. In The Never Hero, Jonathan’s powers only activate when he needs to protect the world, but how effective those powers are is determined by his natural human form before those powers kick in. The stronger he is as a normal man, the stronger he is when activated. In other words, I wanted a hero that had to train like Batman in order to keep being Superman.

2. What is your writing process like?

I have an idea and I let it stew in my head like a puzzle that needs solving. Eventually I see a satisfying conclusion. Once I can see the linear progression, a time line of events that leads to that conclusion, I sit down and write.

The moment I type the first word, my wife enters and asks me how to solve for the hypotenuse of a triangle, then argues with me when I explain. I start to write again, and my fourteen year old son comes in and asks if I can drive him to subway. I make incredibly slow progress, blaming the delay on the distractions of my family. Then, the moment they aren’t home, I find myself watching television instead of writing. It’s a very complex process.

Really though, I write a terrible first draft. Then I revise it. After that I start to look for what ties all the elements of the story together. I look for themes and symbolism I may not have even consciously meant to incorporate. I try and see what the story is really about. Then, I revise again, and I do so in a manner that brings those identified elements into clearer focus. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Eventually, the story starts to flow, starts to culminate. I try my best to remove all the excess, and then there is the editor followed by the beta readers.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

If it’s your first attempt, don’t add unnecessary paragraphs to your story because you are afraid you can’t fill an entire novel. When you finish the first draft, you’ll regret all of that fluff you need to edit out because you’ve written a 500 page tome instead of the 300 pages you originally intended.

A reading pet peeve:

If you don’t know why you character is doing something, figure it out before you publish. Nothing bothers me more than when I read a character behaving in an illogical manner and no explanation is given other than intuition or a subconscious premonition, or my most hated of all lines: “he didn’t know why, but he had to {insert illogical action}.”

A rant on description and vocabulary:

Description is only good if it serves a purpose, and too much of it, no matter how beautifully written, always runs the risk of losing the reader’s attention. I’d get upset about it, but I’d be a hypocrite. My most frequent complaint, even with my favorite story tellers, is when they spend an entire paragraph describing a mountain scene or a woman’s intricate dress pattern. I only go into a lot of detail about the furnishing of a room if it is actually important to the plot or if a location/object is its own character, so to speak, within the story. For instance, I once went into excessive detail about a character’s garage, but the character saw that garage as his friend. In other words, he anthropomorphized it (going to regret using that word after the next paragraph). Still, I think it is far better to say “They were in a forest” and let the reader build the scene to their liking.

Vocabulary was something that was brought into stark clarity when I asked myself if there was ever an exotic word that really improved a reading experience for me. The answer was simply: “nope.” When I wrote the original draft of The Never Hero, I had beta readers write down every word I used that they didn’t know. I ended up removing all but three, and even those I sometimes regret keeping (in case you’re curious, I kept phylogeny, pedantic, and prepubescent. I just now realized that they all happen to be ‘P’ words…weird). What I eventually recognized is that I had been using larger/exotic/scientific words more due to my own insecurity than necessity. I actually thought it would matter if readers believed I was intelligent, that it would give me some type of credibility as an author. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. The reader doesn’t care if I’m smart, and I’ll only alienate them if I try too hard to prove it. They care if I can tell a good story. That, and if I actually am smart, not just posturing with impressive word use, it should be clear in the writing.

4. What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on two projects, both of which I plan to release in 2015.

The Never Paradox.
The sequel to The Never Hero, this story takes place roughly a month after the events of the first novel, and delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the secret war that Jonathan has been forced to fight as well as the history of all the characters responsible for the conflict.

Rolly
I am also trying out a new series that I plan to release as 50 to 100 page shorts, not unlike the length of a television episode. The series is called Rolly and follows a young woman surviving in a zombie apocalypse while both gifted and cursed with multiple personality disorder.

I haven’t written an official blurb for the series yet but I’ve used the following in a coming soon advertisement:

Rolly awoke the day after the grid went down. Until then, she’d spent her entire existence locked up in a padded room within the mind of Molly. It has been three years since Molly went to sleep, and Rolly has kept their body alive, surviving in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Now, something has brought Molly back to the surface. She intends to use Rolly as a weapon, but the girl who has been sleeping through the worst period in human history has a conscience, and it’s liable to get them both killed.

5. What are your ultimate writing goals?

For once in my life I actually have an answer to this question: (1) Quit my day job. (2) Write full time.

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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5 Responses to Guest Post: The Never Hero by T. Ellery Hodges

  1. Harry Heckel says:

    Great interview. The Never Hero sounds excellent. I’m looking forward to reading it. Thank you for sharing and good luck!

    Like

  2. Laurie says:

    Wonderful interview

    Like

  3. Nicola says:

    Thanks for posting this interview; it was quite illuminating. I know I tend to be the kind of writer who includes fluff out of a fear there’s not enough story.

    Can’t wait to read The Never Hero; I love the idea of a hero whose deeds can never be known.

    Like

  4. Hi All,

    I noticed that the cover isn’t displaying in the article above.
    A link to the image can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3ZPZUltBxkfSmExUEp6VXg4UW8/view?usp=sharing

    Like

  5. As for why a superhero does it, I am reminded of Popeye, when a millionaire tried to give him money for saving his little girl. Popeye refused the money. “When I does a good deed, I does it cuz it oughta get done, and not to get renumbumberated!”

    True heroes do it for the good, not for the glory.

    Like

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