When you read a story of a manly hero slaying a dragon and then bedding the princess, it's easy to imagine there's a 300-pound author sitting behind the typewriter in a tiny apartment full of cats. After all, fiction is all about escaping our real life, right?
Not always. In fact, if you look at the authors behind some of the most iconic heroes of all time, you find a writer who's every bit as badass. Not only did these guys insert elements from their actual lives into the stories, they actually toned them down a bit.
We're talking about the creators of characters like...
#5. James Bond
We know what you're thinking: "I don't need you to explain to me who James Bond is, fool! Don't waste my valuable time!" But we do need to explain that the Bond from the books is not the wise-cracking, lovable rogue that you've seen in the films (that was, in fact, just Sean Connery being himself).
No, literary Bond is a ruthless, slightly amoral man who does whatever he needs to do to get the job done. He doesn't get laser wristwatches or jet packs, just an assload of fucking guns.
Even Daniel Craig's portrayal, while much more accurate, failed to express the extent of Bond's badassery. At the end of Casino Royale (the book), upon learning that his girlfriend is both (A) a double agent and (B) dead, his only reaction is to call up M and say, "Yep. She's dead." Yeah, the novelized Bond is a damn sight more hardcore than any of the movie versions.
He doesn't need puns to punish you... shit, wait.
Before he invented Bond, Ian Fleming was personally recruited by the Director of Naval Intelligence to aid them as a spy during World War II. Fleming rose to the rank of Commander and started devising ingenious plans to disrupt the enemy forces, including Operation Ruthless, in which British troops would masquerade as injured Germans and then kill their rescuers, and Operation Goldeneye, which covertly kept an eye on fascist Spain in case it decided to join the Nazis.
We're assuming it looked something like this.
Later on in the war, he was chief planner for the 30 Assault Unit, a special task force composed of 138 commandos who were trained in doing basically everything James Bond has ever done. After the war, he built his own house/slice of tropical paradise in Jamaica and, a couple years later, President Kennedy (a big fan of the Bond books) invited Fleming to dinner. While there, Fleming suggested that JFK should discredit Fidel Castro by announcing that beards attracted radioactivity and made you sterile, a suggestion that was apparently taken quite seriously by CIA Chief Allen Dulles.
Near the end of his life, Fleming said that his biggest regret was that he was "always smoked and drunk and loved too much." We're pretty sure that's awesome.
We couldn't figure out which of these was more badass, so we're just going to use both.
Seriously, now. Of all the characters in the world that are the result of the author just writing a thinly-veiled version of his own life, did you ever think James freaking Bond was one of them?
#4. King Arthur
You know the story: After pulling the fabled Excalibur from a stone, he was crowned King of England, because pulling things out of a stationary object is the only qualification necessary to lord over a powerful empire.
"You are now the sovereign ruler of Office Max."
Arthur refused to pay tribute to the Roman Empire, deciding instead to muster an army to go kick them in the balls with a plate-armored boot. But before he even reached the battle (which he won convincingly), Arthur decided to take a quick detour to fight a goddamn giant, because hey, it's a giant.
"Really, when am I going to be here again?"
Arthur defeats the giant by "swappis [the giant's] genytrottys in sondir," which we can only assume has something to do with a claw hammer and male nudity. Oh, and did we mention that he has a scabbard of invulnerability? Because he totally does.
If there's one bad thing about Arthur it's that he was always too much of a goody-two-shoes. Thankfully, Thomas Malory--the guy who wrote/compiled King Arthur's tales--didn't cotton to any of that bullshit. He was basically a one-man crime spree and a mixture of Robin Hood, Harry Houdini and Sean Connery.
He and a bunch of his friends ambushed the Duke of Buckingham and stole everything he had. He then proceeded to seduce another man's wife twice, robbing the guy the second time around. Thomas also broke out of jail three times, once by swimming across a moat at night, once by using swords, daggers and other pointy objects to stab his way free, and once by somehow getting a royal pardon.
Meaning he looks like this and will rob you while making your daughter's virginity disappear.
"Because he's fucking awesome, that's how. And he signed my crown."
Malory remained free for a while but spent his last remaining days in prison, using the time he had left to write a masterpiece of English literature instead of more typical inmate hobbies such as lifting weights and having sex with men.
#3. Don Juan
At the tender age of 16, when most (read: one) of us were sitting alone in our bedrooms listening to The Cure and crying over our stifling unpopularity, Don Juan has an affair with a 23-year-old married woman and kicks the shit out of her husband--and that's just the first chapter.
What follows is a series of sexual conquests that makes the STD playground that is Bret Michaels's Rock of Love seem like a third grade pizza party.
"Which one of you busted strippers ordered the sausage?"
Among Juan's many seductions include a pirate lass, a sultana, a teenage concubine, a Duchess and Catherine the Great (yes, the supposed horse-fucker). When he wasn't busy with his lady friends, Don Juan found time to survive a shipwreck, fight a pirate gang by himself, conquer the city of Ismail, rescue an orphan girl from killer Cossacks, and shoot a cockney mugger to death. We think that last one had less to do with the mugging and more to do with the accent.
"O'right guvna, fer a shilling I'll shoine yer shoesFUCK I'VE BEEN SHOT!"
Remember how Don Juan started with the whole "seducing a married woman and fighting her husband" thing? Yeah, that actually happened to Lord Byron, who, as it turns out, based Don on himself more than a little.
"They say write what you know, and I know pussy."
Byron had numerous love affairs, the most famous of which was with Lady Caroline Lamb, who became just a tiny bit obsessed with him after Byron dumped her. It all came to a head when she covertly wrote "Remember Me!" on one of his books. Byron, fed up, penned the scathing poem Remember Thee! Remember Thee! which was basically a highly literate version of "99 Problems."
"Get thee off mine nuts, bitch."
In his spare time, Byron took care of his pets, which included a fox, monkeys, a parrot, cats, an eagle, a crow, a crocodile, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens, an Egyptian crane, a badger, geese, a heron and a bear (beating out every U.S. president by a good mile for having badass pets), and also liberated Greece. Oh, and he was probably the inspiration for the modern vampire (we mean Dracula, not goddamned Twilight).