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Self-Loathing Protagonists – GUEST POST by Reese Hogan

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Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Reese Hogan back to the Hive!

Before we check out Reese’s Guest Post about Self-loathing protagonists and depression, here’s the blurb of Reese’s military sci-fi SHROUDED LOYALTIES, available from Angry Robot:

Shrouded Loyalties by Reese HoganNaval officer Mila Blackwood is determined to keep her country’s most powerful secret – shrouding, the ability to traverse their planet in seconds through an alternate realm – out of enemy hands. But spies are everywhere: her submarine has been infiltrated by a Dhavnak agent, and her teenage brother has been seduced by an enemy soldier. When Blackwood’s submarine is attacked by a monster, she and fellow sailor, Holland, are marked with special abilities, whose manifestations could end the war – but in whose favor? Forced to submit to military scientists in her paranoid and war-torn home, Blackwood soon learns that the only people she can trust might also be the enemy.





Self-Loathing Protagonists:

What Can They Teach Us about this Lesser Known Aspect of Depression?

by Reese Hogan


Self-hate as a form of character motivation can be captivating. It’s often triggered by a specific event in the plot: a moment of failure or loss that convinces the character of their own inadequacy in stopping it. It always comes back to that bitter word that signifies an unchangeable past: regret. But this isn’t the only type of self-loathing. Sometimes, it’s a part of you, and has been for as long as you can remember. Sometimes, these moments of regret aren’t specific enough to pinpoint, and your whole life is a struggle against the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, you never will be, and nothing you can do will change that.


Some people might say, “Well, of course there are people out there like that, but they’re not characters I want to read about. They sound like downers. They’ve become tropes, even, like Eeyore or Marvin the Paranoid Android. They’re somewhat entertaining, if you land the joke right, but they’re not heroes.”


But people who live like this on a daily basis deserve to see themselves as more than the character surrounded by awkward silences, or the one who’s so driven by regrets that life becomes a bloodbath of revenge. There should be characters like this because there are people like this. And if you think for a second these people aren’t strong, just think about the uphill battle of doing anything with someone constantly telling you that there’s no point and nothing matters.


So how do you show someone who knows nothing about this frame of mind that these people are strong? How do you keep characters struggling with self-loathing from being labeled as ‘whiny’ or ‘pathetic’? First of all, find ways for them to be badass in their own right. Although they might have trouble talking to others or consistently make terrible decisions about who to trust, they could be really smart, or good at cooking, or excel at verbal repartee. Secondly, follow the same rules that make any character fascinating and likable: make sure they’re active. Showing a character do nothing but complain or lose themselves in alcohol and drugs is a sure way to cause a reader’s disdain; but showing a character who acts and drives the story despite, or even because of, their constant struggles with low self-worth will be much more intriguing. Sometimes, this character journey is an upward one, and sometimes it’s a downward spiral. Regardless of which arc you explore, though, the path of an active self-loathing narrator can be compelling and engaging, because it is a very painful place to live.


An equally important question is why we need this character. I’ve already spoken of the need for those living with self-hate to understand that they’re not alone. But there are others who could benefit from reading this character – the ones who don’t understand. It’s rare for people who live this way to open up when they feel their words go unheard. Furthermore, the very nature of such a mental health issue often triggers feelings of worthlessness to think anyone would care. The sufferer remains silent. And when they need someone most, the crucial connections haven’t been made, because it was a conversation that was too painful and scary to have. So, for a person who hasn’t lived through these issues, getting inside the head of someone who has is one way to learn about the very real struggles they face.


One of my goals in writing a character like this is to show both groups of people that self-loathing is not a weakness. It can happen to anyone. It can go on for years, or even an entire lifetime. It causes feelings of abandonment and isolation. The desperation and helplessness that accompany it can make us incredibly vulnerable, sometimes at dangerous times in our lives. This is the arc I wanted to explore in Shrouded Loyalties, but it’s also a narrative that’s going on around us every day, oftentimes beyond our radar. Like an autoimmune disorder, it is the mind attacking itself and feeding it lies about no one caring and nothing mattering. Some of those who fight this mindset have been on the front lines for so long, they’ve almost forgotten why they’re fighting. But they keep on. They are amazingly strong people to face this voice day after day, and get up and go on anyway.


But, as in any battle, it is the reinforcements that will help them win the war. Every person who listens and understands makes that fight a little easier. I hope, that by writing one character’s dark journey, I can help build this army larger, until one day, the power of its numbers can defeat the harmful lies in our heads.


If you’re in an emotionally vulnerable place and don’t feel ready to reach out to someone you know, I encourage you to visit nami.org for resources that could help or, if your needs are more dire, to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


In the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258


Reese-Hogan.jpg?resize=190%2C268&ssl=1Reese Hogan is a nonbinary transmasc science fiction author from New Mexico. He has published three novels, and the latest, Shrouded Loyalties, was a Best SFF of August 2019 pick by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. His short fiction has been published in The Decameron Project and Clockwork, Curses, and Coal, an anthology of steampunk fairy tale retellings.  In addition to writing fiction, Reese is a content writer for the Writing Mastery Academy at www.writingmastery.com.

Website: www.reesehogan.com

Facebook: reesechogan

Twitter: @ReeseHogan1



The post Self-Loathing Protagonists – GUEST POST by Reese Hogan appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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