December 18, 2014

Tara Sue

About a decade ago, my brother-in-law loaned me his copy of City of Heroes. At the time I was craving an MMORPG but didn’t feel that I had the time to invest in World of Warcraft. CoH seemed like a good choice — it felt more casual to me, and it was in a genre I loved.

Character creation in CoH was pretty standard for superhero games — decide on a power type, choose powers, set your costume, and on your way. I decided to make a “strong” character based on a technology power type. So I made a tall, well-muscled woman with a long blonde ponytail and a cybernetic arm (and maybe leg, too — I don’t recall anymore). She basically punched really hard, jumped really high, and had a few other powers. No lasers, no cape [“NO CAPES!”], no weapon. Just a girl with a big punch who was taller than all the other female PCs I encountered. I named her Tara Titan because she was so tall and strong (named after the Greek Titans, of course) and because name alliteration is a standard comic book trope (e.g., Silver Surfer, Peter Parker, Martian Manhunter, etc.).

I’m not going to admit that Tara was some kind of Mary Sue for my trans self at the time, but she was endemic of the kind of characters I always played in MMOs: female, pretty but not sexy, and always the very first character I created in a game. My alt character was always male, I guess to take the curse off it; but I never played that male alt much. My female PCs were always the first to reach the level cap. The only thing that made Tara stand out from the rest was than I didn’t give her some variation of a name with Ali in it.

Something about the Tara Titan concept stuck around long after I stopped playing CoH. I liked her, liked the idea of her, and eventually recruited her into my fiction. Tara’s journey from a City of Heroes PC to the leading P.O.V. character in the superhero opus I’ve been composing in my head since middle school is not a story easily told. It’s just one of the creative quirks in my head: eventually, every idea of value I have seems to get swept up in the Touched. My brain is wired for epic world-building. You’d think, given such a proclivity, that I would be the kind of nerd who obsesses over Tolkien’s Silmarillion or who knows the name of every midshipman on the USS Enterprise, but you’d be wrong. I don’t enjoy being a fan of such universes. I just want to build my own.

I tell this story merely as backdrop to this week’s big Wattpad experiment. I thought you might want to know a little about where she came from … and why certain story events are about to happen. It’s weird sometimes; once an idea digs in I don’t like to change it so much as make it fit the story. Tara is no longer a technology hero, but the original had that cybernetic arm and there’s a fragment of that concept that I just couldn’t let go. I will be interested to see how it plays out on the page.

There are four segments of The Trials of Tara Titan published right now, clocking in at over 5,000 words, and I hope to have another 1,000 up by the end of the day. Give it a read, why don’t’cha? Thanks.

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