Defiance, it’s on my mind because events in Ukraine are corresponding with my work on Book5, Torment Surfacing. Over the course of the novel, my persecuted protagonist needs to find defiance of her own. It made me more conscious of how often it appears in my writing.
Like, a lot.
After all, my heroines are typically introverts forced to step far out of their comfort zones at some point. As an INFJ, I know how uncomfortable that can be, and I don’t tend to forget each time I have to do so.
Historically, it isn’t that big a leap from the American reply to the demand for their surrender at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1945 (“NUTS”) to Snake Island (“Go f— yourself”). Bigger? There was Churchill’s defiant, “We shall fight on the beaches.” Now we have Zelensky’s, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”
That battle can be more personal, like Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in 1955. How about BLM in general, or even each woman who escapes an abusive relationship. Righteous defiance is a powerful moment in any life, in any story.
At fifteen I learned what it was to be treated as a delinquent despite never having been in trouble and while having excellent grades. I found my defiance at one point and requested more freedom (like being allowed to have friends).
It didn’t go well, but it did inspire a lot of stories and poems over those years and helped renew my writing later. The entire Kovenlore Chronicles is about standing up to oppression. I initiated the series in 2016, but its roots go back to the 1990s when I began the Ontyre worldbuilding.
In Chapter One of Book1, Trust in the Forgotten, unassuming and withdrawn Riparia is set upon by the same bystanders she’d been trying to aid. Retreating, she stands her ground. “Don’t you see? They want us to turn on each other.” The encounter sets the tone for the rest of the horrific night, including…
The well-dressed demon sauntered closer.
She jabbed at the air with a sword that’d become twice as heavy. “Get away from me!”
He executed a graceful bow, his hands out wide. Straightening, he shared a toothy grin beneath dark hair swept back and high. The eyes sparked red again. Flawless skin, he was the prettiest man she’d ever seen.
“Now, now, your ladyship. No need for animosity. I’m a sometime assassin for sure, Greeze by name, but your safety is assured.” His body twitched. His attraction to her magic?
“You’ll not bleed my gift, nor drag me off to Knoss.” Jaw clenched, she set her feet with vibrating legs.
Another kind of defiance was my vow to overcome my own weaknesses and find a way to write consistently and eventually publish. That vow was takin in mid 2020 and I’ve stuck with it. My creative life was in danger and no one could save it but me.
It’s a similar fight Kasaria must face in Torment Surfacing and it, too, begins with a vow long before she’s tested. Having lost the first seventeen years of her life, she finds the rest slipping away unless she finds it within herself to overcome her fears.
I’ve talked before about purpose and it comes into play here. What pushed me to defy inherent and imposed weaknesses was purpose. I vowed to find a way to share stories someone might need, big sales or not. It’s what drives me to put in long days each and every day.
It drove Frodo and Sam up the slopes of Mount Doom to destroy the ring for themselves, the Shire, and Middle Earth. A greater purpose often drives Riparia’s defiance. It’s what Kasaria struggles to find. It’s why private citizens are fighting in the streets of Kyiv.