We all have our heroes, some mystical, others superheroes, but me it was the outlaws and lawmen of the Old West. As an adult I still have those heroes, and in having them it fuels me to write at my best. Today as Matthew Pizzolato launches his book release for Outlaw, he stops by to tell us who his heroes are, and compares heroes to anti-heroes in westerns. Welcome Matthew, thanks for dropping by.
“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I think that every child needs to have direction in life, something to emulate and admire and to strive to be. Quite frankly, everyone needs heroes. As a young man, I found my heroes by reading Westerns.
Mostly, I read Louis L’Amour but I partook of many others, from Max Brand and Zane Gray to Loren Estleman and Elmore Leonard and everything in between. If it was a Western, I read it or watched it on the screen. My heroes were Louis L’Amour, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and the characters they portrayed.
The earlier Westerns told stories of right and wrong and the heroes of the genre lived by a black and white code of good and evil. There was no middle ground, and there is nothing wrong with that kind of story. In fact, I prefer them because it’s what I grew up reading.
However, beginning mostly with the films of Clint Eastwood, a new type of character was introduced into the Western, the antihero.
While there are still similarities to the Western hero of old, there are some vast differences. Antiheroes are flawed characters. They are not perfect and don’t pretend to be, but they still possess heroic qualities.
Like the hero, the antihero possesses honor and loyalty, but may on occasion step outside moral boundaries that a hero cannot. Sometimes their integrity may be called into question, but there is always a line that the antihero will not cross.
It is that aspect that opens areas of new storytelling for writers because instead of the moral unequivocalness of telling stories in black and white, the gray areas of morality can be explored. I think that if writers want to create fresh and exciting material for readers, it’s going to be in that gray area and not rehashing the same stories that have already been told.
That is what I have tried to do with Wesley Quaid, the antihero protagonist of Outlaw. He is a bank robber who has killed plenty of men and done some things he’s not proud of, but he is still a man of honor and loyalty.
Heroes provide examples of the kind of people we should strive to be even though we might not be able to. As humans, we are inherently flawed and so perhaps we can identify more with the antihero.
Perhaps in the future, we should mix a fair amount of antiheroes into our Westerns. We still need heroes to emulate because as humans we have to be able to strive toward something, but part of the joy of reading is the escapism it provides, so we need characters that we can identify with also.
Outlaw Book Link on Amazon:
Matthew Pizzolato is a member of Western Fictioneers. His fiction has been published in various online and print magazines. He writes a weekly NASCAR column for Insider Racing News and can be contacted via his personal website:
OUTLAW Book Description:
The outlaw Wesley Quaid wants to put the past behind him and start his life anew in another place where no one has ever heard of him. When a mysterious woman he once knew resurfaces, Wesley discovers that a man can’t run from his past anymore than he can run from the kind of man he has become.
To view or purchase Outlaw today visit Amazon.com.