Who’s the hero, really?

This week I thought we could take a look directly at Accounting for it All and its porn-star-turned-accountant heroine, Robin Whethers. After all, it’s not every day that one’s protagonist earns praise like this from a fellow author unless they really mean it.

AFIA Hinkle Praise

So who is Robin Whethers, what makes her a hero, and how does the shape of her journey subtly subvert one’s expectations of heroism?

Who is Robin Whethers?

As mentioned above, Robin is most succinctly described as a porn-star-turned-accountant, but as we’ve covered in previous posts on this blog [CITATION], merely describing someone based on their profession fails to capture the depth of who someone really is at their core. What else can we learn about her, then, without spoiling the novel’s actual plot? Let’s make a quick list and see where that gets us.

  • Age: 28
  • Hometown: Squareville, Kansas
  • Highest Education Level Completed: High school
  • Career History: waitstaff, porn star, “accountant”
  • Favorite Food: Anything but thin crust pizza
  • Likes: bar games, late nights, cold beer, gin and tonic
  • Dislikes: thin.crust.pizza.

After reading this admittedly short list, one might think, “Wait—this is our hero?”

I’m here to tell you that yes, yes it is.

What’s in a Hero?

What we have in Robin is perhaps more appropriately described as an anti-hero. For the unfamiliar, an anti-hero is “a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.” That’s the definition according to Google, anyway, which, if we’re honest, is the definition you were going to settle on when looking it up for yourself.

But what are those conventional heroic attributes an anti-hero must lack? Courage, perhaps? Moral fortitude? Compassion? Strength? Intelligence?

Throughout Accounting for it All, Robin certainly takes the easy way out whenever possible, which likely doesn’t meet anyone’s definition of courageous. And moral fortitude? Given her career choices, some might argue she’s lacking in anything resembling morals—at least that’d likely be the interpretation of anyone supporting society’s prevailing narratives about pornography and sex work, which Robin’s story itself seeks to subvert.

Then there’s compassion, strength, and intelligence. Robin definitely cares about those she’s closest with. In fact, most of her trainwreck decision-making is guided by an honest desire to protect those she cares about. That feels rather compassionate and would require a fair amount of strength to endure, though how she chooses to protect those nearest her isn’t always the wisest approach.

What does this mean, then? Is Robin a hero? An anti-hero? Something in between?

The answer is… it’s complicated, as the above might imply.

Structural Subversion

I did, however, deliberately choose to make use of a plot structure often referred to as the Hero’s Journey when structuring Robin’s story. Why? Because a former porn-star isn’t someone most people would likely consider to be a hero (again, at least based on society’s prevailing narratives).

To me, it would have been all too easy to write up a character who was once in pornography but has since “reformed” and “redeemed herself” and blah blah blah. But 1) that’d be the easy way out, and 2) would only reinforce what I believe can be harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about her line of work and sexuality in general.

The use of the Hero’s Journey plot model, then, was an intentional attempt to create an unexpected, dynamic interplay between the content of the story itself and its very structural foundations.

So when do we get to meet Robin?

We’ll do a more in-depth introduction to Robin—complete with an actual character sketch from the marvelous Maggie Derrick—as we get closer to the book’s release. And, of course, you’ll be able to read Robin’s full story in November 2018 when Accounting for it All is published by NineStar Press.

For now, though, you can learn more about the research that went into writing Accounting for it All by visiting our blog or subscribing to our newsletter to get updates delivered right to your inbox whenever we’ve got new content to share.

Thanks for visiting.

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