Letters to TLRH #3 Dec 6, 2012 13:36:04 GMT -5
Post by Susan Hillwig on Dec 6, 2012 13:36:04 GMT -5
Notes from the Road: the Girl
To tell the truth, I never liked Stiletta. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she was the worst thing about the Hex series, but she didn’t seem to do much to make it better, either. Even though she’s first presented to us as this tough chick bent on revenge, she doesn’t really do a lot to back up that claim. Matter of fact, she seems to land in the “damsel in distress” role more often than not, a bit of arm candy perpetually in trouble. This isn’t to say that, historically, Jonah’s girlfriends don’t usually end up in the same boat, but that’s the worst part: going by what we see in those 18 issues, Jonah and Stiletta are never actually an item.
This was something I didn’t realize when I first began plotting “The Long Road Home”. When I originally envisioned Jonah waking up from the first nightmare scene in the story, I had Stiletta in bed right next to him! I just took it as a matter of course that Jonah had hooked up with the girl -- the man’s no Bat Lash, but his boots have been under quite a few beds, and I figured Michael Fleisher had put Stiletta in there specifically to become his girlfriend. But as I perused the Hex series more closely, it became obvious that their relationship didn’t go as deep as I remembered: while Jonah kept giving off signals that he definitely cared for Stiletta beyond the “just friends” level, the opposite didn’t appear to be true. I’d been bouncing ideas off of another Hex-nut named Kevin via the Internet, so I asked him what he thought of it, and he felt that Stiletta was pretty much there for window dressing, nothing more. If she had any romantic feelings for him, she never showed it. So that became another twist to the story: Jonah being genuinely in love with Stiletta, but never telling her outright, either due to fear of rejection or because so many women he’d loved died tragically.
As for the “window dressing” notion, I knew I couldn’t write a character whose sole function is to stand around looking sexy, so I tried to build up Stiletta into a more well-rounded person, someone I would want to read about and root for when she got into trouble, as opposed to baggage that had been imposed upon me as a writer. I also used her as a go-between for Hal and Hex -- just as Green Lantern was the go-between for the reader and this unfamiliar world -- resulting in a slight love-triangle vibe, which I then played with in the second dream sequence (and to those who just read that scene for the first time, I added a certain character who didn’t exist yet in 2005...let me know if you spotted her!). By the time the story was all finished, my buddy Kevin’s opinion of Stiletta as a character had changed for the better, so I suppose I did my job well.
Speaking of other people’s opinions (and we’ll be getting to yours soon enough), I have to give some credit to my husband, Jamin, who loves my writing but hates Jonah Hex. He’s a born-and-raised Southerner, and finds the character’s phonetic drawl insulting (though proud of his heritage, Jamin has pretty much erased his own accent to avoid being looked upon as “a dumb hick” by us Yankees). But he knows how much I like the surly cuss, so when I got myself a healthy case of writer’s block, he came to the rescue. The problem was that little game of “Question an’ Answer” between our two leading men: I’d written three or four drafts of that particular scene, and none of them were playing out well. I had Hal tied up, I had Jonah threatening him with a gun, and I knew that, considering the state of paranoia I’d whipped Jonah into, the odds of Hal getting shot were terribly high. So I had to find a way to make Jonah put the gun away, and I couldn’t think of a reasonable way to do it without making it look like he gave in too easily. After yet another failed attempt, I told my husband about it, and he offered a simple solution: “Who said the gun has to be loaded?”
It made perfect sense, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time Jonah faked someone out in order to get what he wanted. I started the scene over and allowed Jonah the freedom to shove that Dragoon into Hal’s face and deliver a high-tension scene without the worry of him actually shooting the Green Lantern. So if you enjoyed how that particular scene played out in the end, please tip your hat in Jamin’s direction.
Okay, time for y’all to weigh in on this issue, and next time, I’ll expound a bit upon the other contribution Hal Jordan’s presence made to this story. Let’s just say it was world-changing.
- Susan Hillwig