Lisa's Thoughts on Badge of HonorBadge of Honor was not written as a novel. Rather, from my earliest memories of childhood, it was the world I immersed myself into at every spare moment. If we were taking car trips, if I was on my one-hour-each-way bus ride to school, this is where I went. We didn't have Game Boys or Kindles in those days. Our imagination was the escape.
So, year after year, I would embellish the tale. I knew every detail about every character. I knew their background and history. I knew exactly why the characters did and said things. I could visualize the layout of the gardens, the colors of the outfits, and the notes of the songs.
When I reached my twenties, I began to think about setting down the story into written form. For quite a long while I resisted doing that. My world in my mind was rich, full, and three dimensional. To reduce that into words would mean I'd have to leave a great deal out. There would be no way to tell everybody's stories. Also, part of the joy of having this world in my mind is that I could refresh it with every telling. The meanings were always alive. If I set it onto paper, I would be forced to have one version, one set of dialogue, one static result.
After a while, my mind began developing a new story - the one which would become the basis for Believing your Eyes. I realized if I did not make an effort to record the Badge of Honor story, that I might eventually forget it as I spent my time working on this new story. I definitely didn't want to lose track of a story which had been important to me for so many years. So I made the compromise and began recording down the central theme of the story. It was hard, having to choose which aspects of the story to "discard" along the way. And even with a lot of whittling, the story was still 312 pages long, which is substantial for a romance novel. Still, I could not bring myself to cut it further. I had already lost a lot of the background, and hopefully enough remains to infuse the characters with the complex vibrancy they hold within my own mind.
It is fair to say that the hero draws many of his strengths from Aragorn - a character I fell deeply in love with from a very young age. I adored Aragorn. He was far from handsome. He watched over rural communities even as those villagers scoffed at him and mistreated him. He did what was right not for reward or acclaim, but simply because he knew he should. In my readings of the Lord of the Rings trilogy there was never an Arwen character present (I think she only exists in an appendix) - instead I had a human female at his side, equally dedicated to doing the right thing, willing to put everything on the line to protect the weak and innocent.
While this was the first novel I wrote, and for a decade it was the only story that existed, I put off releasing it in my library until five other novels were out. Badge of Honor was precious to me. It was my innermost thoughts and dreams. I wanted to make sure I'd built up a "thick author's skin" to handle the inevitable critics before I presented this one for public consumption.
Part of what is ironic to me is that, when I was first writing this, relatively few people had read Lord of the Rings. Certainly it was a "classic" - but for many modern readers it was an ancient story they'd not gotten around to reading. However, in modern times, the movies have blasted the story into every aspect of the public consciousness. So in a way I'm shy of that situation. A story which had been very personal and private to me now will seem "public" to many people, and that's a change I've had to come to terms with. For example, I remember very clearly being in the theater opening night for the first Lord of the Rings, with a standing-room-only crowd. I remember vividly the scene on Weathertop, where the hobbits are in peril, and they scream out, "Strider!" It was an incredibly powerful moment for me. Here was my fantasy, my daily dream for literally over a decade, and it was in full color before me, blasting out to the world. There was both the sense that I had immersed myself exactly where I wanted to be - and also that now it was no longer solely mine.
I would love to hear your feedback on the story!
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