As my regular followers will know, Leha is the hero of my trilogy of science fantasy epics, the World Spectrum series. A shopkeeper from the land of Eastenhold, she is caught in the genocide of her people and claws herself* into the role of saving not only her nation, but all of humanity.
Of all the dozens — if not hundreds — of characters I’ve created over the years, Leha remains my favourite. There have been others that I’ve truly loved and enjoyed writing about, but none quite top Leha.
I’ve sometimes wondered why this is, and I think it comes down to one thing: Leha is my complete opposite.
This is going to sound awfully flaky, and I don’t quite mean this in the metaphysical way it sounds, but sometimes I get the feeling there’s some life force that everyone has within them, and each individual has it in varying quantities.
Do you ever get the feeling that some people are just more alive than others? People that are just filled with passion for life itself?
An example that always come to mind for me is Hélène Campbell. For those not familiar with the story, Hélène Campbell is a young woman who raised a great deal of awareness for organ donation while waiting on a lung transplant to cure her degenerative lung disease. She even got some celebrities to help spread her message, including Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber — possibly the only worthwhile thing that douchebag has ever done.
Even in the depths of her illness, bed-ridden and struggling to breathe, Hélène still managed to maintain an optimistic outlook and seemingly enjoy life. And when she finally received her new lungs and began to recover, she made headlines again by appearing publicly and dancing for the pure joy of simply being alive and healthy.
Because that’s just the kind of person she is. She just seems to have that much passion for life.
I’m not easily moved, but I found Hélène’s story incredibly inspiring.
She reminded me of Leha in many ways. Leha, also, is filled with a passion for life, a need to take action and keep going even in the face of utter despair — plus, Hélène Campbell also looks a fair bit like Leha.
In the end, this is what makes Leha a hero. It’s her superpower — even more so than the actual superpowers she winds up getting. It’s not that she’s a genius, or an expert tactician, or a natural born leader or warrior.
But the light of her own life burns so brightly within her that she cannot help but fight against the darkness. It’s simply in her nature. She is so filled with passion and energy that she is compelled to constantly strive to make a better world. The force of her own life prevents her from giving up.
I’m one of these people. There are parts of life I enjoy, but I don’t enjoy life itself. I don’t wake up every morning and find myself filled with energy and anticipation for what is to come. I look around, and everyone else just seems to be more alive than me.
And that’s why Leha is so interesting to me, because she is so utterly unlike me. Where I feel cold and empty, she’s fiery and hot-blooded. If I had been put through the things Leha had to deal with — or what Hélène Campbell went through, for that matter — I probably would have just laid down and died.
But Leha? She just keeps going. There’s no force in her entire fictional universe that could stop her.
Because that’s just who she is.
In other news, my latest article at Nexopia is 3 Unknown Masters of Modern Fantasy. These are all authors whose works I whole-heartedly recommend. They each bring a fresh take the fantasy genre without abandoning the sense of wonder that makes fantasy so great.