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He who fights sharks: My scarred hero, Damian

He who fights sharks: My scarred hero, Damian

He who fights sharks: My scarred hero, Damian

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Dreaming up the hero is, for me, one of the most enjoyable parts of writing a new book. Before he takes shape in my mind, I know some fundamentals about the hero: he is ruggedly handsome, he is strong, he is intelligent and he is confident. But he is also – and this is absolutely essential – perfectly, humanly flawed.

In Aphrodite’s Tears, Damian has a powerful masculine pride and a traditional mindset – which can rub my strong, independent heroine Oriel up the wrong way! But beyond this tendency toward machismo, Damian also lives with another flaw, and this is one that he can never fix.

‘Damian Theodorakis – a man with a dead heart, who fought sharks, played with wolves, and whose brutal magnetism made women fall at his feet!’

This is the impression Oriel forms of Damian – leader of the island of Helios who has hired her to work on an archaeological exploration – early on in the book, based on how his workers describe him. Then she meets Damian, and his appearance suggests that at least one part of his reputation is based on fact:

The candlelight flickered on Damian’s face and Oriel’s eyes skimmed the fearful scar which, in the shadows of the room, appeared then disappeared as he moved his head, one minute giving him the semblance of a god and the next of a devil. She wondered how he had come by it. Perhaps the shark attack that Yorgos Christodoulou had told her about?

Oriel’s guess is correct. Damian did indeed fight a shark, and he has been left terribly scarred as a result. The shark’s vicious teeth ripped the skin off his chest, and he badly cut his cheek on coral during the fight. He has been left with a scar in the form of a cross that extends from the middle of his abdomen to his groin, and his cheek is slashed.

When he sees himself through Oriel’s eyes, his physical imperfections make Damian feel vulnerable and uncertain. How did Oriel feel when she saw his face, he wonders, and how might she feel if she saw the rest of him?

Damian fears Oriel will be repulsed or – worse still – feel pity for him. In fact, though, he ought to feel nothing but pride for the scars he bears, for he earned them through an act of heroism, sacrifice and great courage.

‘I owe Kyrios Damian my life,’ explains Mattias, a fisherman from the island. He proceeds to explain to Oriel how, while on a diving trip in the Red Sea, he was attacked by a great white shark, and Damian swam to him and tackled the shark and saved Mattias – at great personal cost.

Damian is a man of honour; he would have given his life to save Mattias. But he is also a man of great depths, and the wounds he suffered that day have made him stronger and yet also, paradoxically, more vulnerable.

‘The wound is the place where the Light enters you.’ So wrote the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi.

Can Damian recognise the light that his wounds have brought him? And will Oriel see in him this light, and love him for, not despite, his imperfections?

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TREKnRay
TREKnRay
3 years ago

Of your books I’ve read, this is my favorite.

hannahfielding
hannahfielding
3 years ago
Reply to  TREKnRay

Thank you Ray for your long standing loyalty, your encouragements and the time you take for commenting. I am very grateful. Have a good day.

hannahfielding
hannahfielding
3 years ago

Thank you so much.