March 17 – 23: “Moral protagonists: rebels, or visionaries?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5 This week Keith Deininger, Amy Shojai, and J.H. Bográn are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and talking about protagonists: “Protagonists often have a strong moral code that does not dovetail neatly with that of their society.  Are they rebels or visionaries?”


Hide and Seek by Amy ShojaiAmy Shojai, CABC is the best-selling award winning author of two dozen pet books and channels her “inner pet” to write dog-viewpoint THRILLERS WITH BITE! Her critically acclaimed debut thriller LOST AND FOUND launched her fiction career in late 2012, followed in 2014 by the sequel HIDE AND SEEK. She specializes in stories that prompt an emotional response in both herself and her readers, and loves to write “furry” medical thrill-rides that leave readers gasping with delight. She’s currently writing SHOW AND TELL, the next book in the series.

Firefall_Proof2J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers. His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll. FIREFALL, his second novel, follows former firefighter Sebastian Martin, now investigating insurance fraud, as he comes head-on against an international band of car thieves.

marrows_pitAn award-winning writer and poet, Keith Deininger is the author of The New Flesh, Fevered Hills, Marrow’s Pit, and Ghosts of Eden (Nov. 2014). He grew up in the American Southwest and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and their four dogs. He is a skeptic and a bit cynical.



  1. Anyway, I knew I wanted to be a part of this particular discussion, because this issue applies directly to the protagonist in my own work, “Marrow’s Pit.” Ballard is tormented by questions about the society in which he lives—in this case The Machine, which is a giant compound structure that its people worship, and to which its people spend their entire existences in servitude. Ballard wonders if there is something else out there, if there is more he can get from life. But then, he does something tragic and morally questionable. So is he a rebel or a visionary?

    Protagonists of this sort are often portrayed as visionaries, fighting the oppressive status quo. And because of such a protagonist’s insistence, no matter the consequences, she/he also often becomes a rebel. But who doesn’t like a rebel, right? There is a reason every young generation comes through and challenges the ways in which the generation before them did things. Rebellion is important to the progression of any society, after all.

    In “Marrow’s Pit,” I use Ballard and the moral ambiguity of his situation to address this question, to raise it. Is he a rebel or a visionary? I’m not really sure. What do you think? 😉

  2. Hi Keith, I think there’s something very attractive about rooting for the “underdog” and those underdog characters (or those who champion them) often seem to be up against insurmountable odds–the “establishment” or society’s conventions or a parent’s restrictions or or or…

    I think such characters must be a little of both: visionaries to see outside the box, and rebels to pursue unpopular causes because it’s the right thing to do.

  3. I think that more than a visionary, they are rebels.

    My reasoning is that these characters choose to go against the establishment, or the tradition. They don’t do it with hopes to change the future for the next generation, at least not right off. They just don’t want to fall under the boot, they feel they want, and deserve, more.
    Okay…I admit that all of the above is a reflection on the character of Vito Corleone from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather. Near the end, Mr. Corleone explains to his son Michael that he expected his descendants to be governors, or presidents, not racketeers like himself.
    The again, you can argue there’s a bit of a double morality in his views.

    On the other side of the specter we have a modern cavalier tilting against windmills. Of course I mean Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Although, whereas the original Quixote always defended the honor, and the rule of law, Reacher comes at odds with the law from time to time, making him a bit of a prosecutor, judge and juror; never a good thing to leave all that power into the hands of just one person.

    There you go, my one cent.

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