Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“To Love a Troll”, or alternately titled, “Seriously, Kelly. What were you thinking?”

Ok, I admit it. The handsome, hunky and altogether fabulous male lead character in my first book is a troll. Yes, you heard me. He's a troll. But before you judge, hear me out. There is a vast difference between the troll you may imagine, and the reality of Whit Blackstone, my personal hero troll.

Let me guess, when you picture a troll in your mind, perhaps you see the giant trolls in the final Harry Potter movie, inherently evil on the side of Lord Voldemort. Or possibly you imagine the short, squat cartoon troll in one of my daughter's favorite shows, Dora the Explorer. Even typing the words, I'm unable to suppress the chorus, "I'm a grumpy old troll, who lives under the bridge…" Can I just say, Ugh.

Trolls, as opposed to other mythical creatures, haven't experienced the popularization of other breeds, such as vampires and werewolves. Those characters have gone from starring in horror flicks ala Bram Stoker to being elevated in current fiction and motion pictures as well-meaning, beautiful, mysterious sexy male leads. Case in point, the Twilight Saga. Don't get me wrong. I'm a card-carrying Twilight fan and have been known to stand in line with truant, class-skipping teenage girls in order to see New Moon on the day of its premiere. In my defense, I did it in another city, so technically, it doesn't count. My story; I'm sticking to it.

Of course, creatures with the polar opposite of the troll reputation would be fairies. I'm not ashamed to say this phenomenon irritates me greatly. I largely blame Walt Disney, who in his ultimate brilliance, served up Tinkerbelle as the end all- be all of fairy land. Tink is yet another favorite of my lovely daughter (groan). In reality, fairies are not sweet little winged creatures spreading happiness and love with sparkling dust guaranteed to make you giddy. No. Not at all. Truth be told, fairies are scary as shit. You want proof? I challenge you to dig any deeper than an animated cartoon and you will find example after example of interactions between fairies and humans where let me tell you, you'd rather make a deal with the devil than have a conversation with a fairy. Don't believe me, do you? Ok…then consider Jenny Green Teeth – a notorious fairy that delights in snatching human children and drowning them in the nearest river. See, told you. Scary as shit.

But I digress…I was speaking of the misunderstood troll. In my research for the perfect main character, Whit had to fit certain criteria. How surprised I was to find that trolls are quite powerful. They have the ability to shape shift into anything..animal, vegetable or mineral, largely to escape detection from the passerby. They're quite shy really, and who could blame them? Trolls have a bad rap. We accuse them of eating babies, for God's sake. How mean are we? Another skill they have perfected, again in the name of hiding from we horrid humans, is the thrall. Trolls have the ability to stare us in the face and make us forget we saw them. Amazing.

Just like people, they come in all shapes and sizes, and various clans have different abilities. The Kajsa clan, for example, is Whit's clan. They are a Wind clan, which is somewhat inspiring on principle alone. Go on, link on over to Wikipedia and search Kajsa wind troll, I dare you. It's real, people. Honest. Plus, much of the folklore surrounding trolls is based in Sweden, Scotland and Ireland. And let me say, I worked really hard to finagle a research trip for the book to Ireland, but the vagaries of life unfortunately stood in my way. I'm still bitter that I never got to sit in an Irish pub over a warm pint with a gorgeous dark haired, black Irish rogue to regale me with all the local lore, his eyes bright with genuine belief of all the stories he grew up with. Sigh. I haven't given up yet. I'm going to write more books, and Gods help me, I'm going to need the research. Again... my story; I'm sticking to it.

So – given the powers my main character needed to have…powers of Air and Wind, the thrall, able to shape shift, descended from ancient powers with formidable strength and noble character, a troll ended up being the perfect man for Eve.

I continue to discover more and more fascinating creatures in my love affair with folklore and myths, and hope to continue to challenge popular opinion with the research I unearth. Because let's face it, everyone loves an underdog. And one of my favorite things to do is to contradict and argue the point of just about anything. Just ask my husband, he'll vouch.

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