Hel is the Norse Goddess of Death. Except for a few facts, little description of Hel is provided from Norse Mythology. Traditionally, her description is that of "a woman half-dead and half-alive". Dark Ages and Medieval depictions show Hel merely as an animated corpse. Early 20th century depictions divide Hel vertically; her right-half is that of a normal woman, her left-half is a rotting cadaver: this was mostly to depict her as a monster in comic books.

     Hel's mother is the giantess Angrboša, but even less is known about her. Hel's father is Loki, the God of Mischief, and her brothers are Fenris the Master-Wolf (destined to slay Odin) and Jorgamund, the great poisonous Sea-Serpent (destined to slay Thor). Hel is also related to Loki's other child, Sleipnir, Odin's horse, but that is another story. The entirety of Hel's participation in Norse Mythology concern only one event preceding Ragnarrock; right before the death of all of the Norse gods and goddesses, including her.

     However, many facts can be derived from general knowledge of Norse Mythology:

1. Hel is a half-goddess. In Norse Mythology, the difference between a god and a half-god is vague. Buri was the only true god, who was licked out of thick ice by Adumla, the great cow; he and Ymir alone sprang into existence (not born of a father or mother). Buri and his son, Bor, married giantesses, so even Odin, Vili, and Ve can't be called pure gods in the literal sense, but Norse Mythology makes no distinction of this. Hel's brothers are monsters, not half-gods, so the "half-divine" designation seems to be nothing more than a recognition of lesser power or status.

2. Norse gods can die. Norse Mythology makes this clear: Norse gods are more like human beings than the divinities of most religions. They can bleed, lose eyes, hands, and their life, although it takes a lot to kill a god.

3. Hel must eat to live for centuries. Most divinities don't require food; the Norse gods must eat magical golden apples to preserve their youth and strength. For this reason, I had to give Hel access to a tree of golden apples, even though this isn't mentioned in the eddas.

4. The Norse gods crave wisdom. One of Odin's many names is the God of Wisdom, and he tore his own eye out to learn of Ragnarrock. Many lines in the eddas exist only to describe or pass on the wisdom of the gods. For this reason, Hel was made very wise, and I gave her exceptional self-control, assuming that anyone who has been alive for uncounted centuries would have a strong mastery of self.

5. Every Norse goddess has divine beauty (where any description is given). For this reason, I gave Hel incredibly good looks.

     My goal with Hel was to make a real person out of a character poorly-described in the eddas. I prefer characters who are realistic, within the scope of their ascribed attributes. If I had made Hel vertically-divided, left-dead-right-alive, then I would have made her a monster, far more difficult to induce romantic attraction by Karl in the short time that the companions remain in her realm. Such a character can be sympathetic, but most monsters are not: Eloise is a sympathetic character, but the Wolfqueen is not. Nidhogg and Fenris are not sympathetic. Characters, especially villains, should have more than one aspect to them, as no reader exists who has only one side to their personality. It was for this reason that I divided Hel at her waist, which, to my knowledge, has never been done before.

     Besides, I grew up on a Navy Hospital base during the Vietnam war; I saw many combat soldiers, especially marines, with terrible scars from bullets and napalm, and many with missing limbs. These great Americans endured and survived, and I didn't want to insult them by saying that Hel's physical problems were insurmountable, although Hel's predicament is unquestionably unique.

     What I invented for Hel is a problem which almost everyone would fear: Hel has a physical limitation which can't be cured; it can be eased, but the price of softening her hard, dead legs is horrible: fresh human blood must be acquired, by any means, enough to bathe in every day. A cure, especially a temporary cure, where the price is so high as to make the cure abhorrent, is the first conundrum that makes Hel sympathetic.

     But the greatest doom of Hel is loneliness, another trait which most humans can relate to at one point or another. As with all other godly traits, Hel's loneliness is expanded to a vast proportion. How Hel deals with her loneliness, when the chance to trap visitors in Niflhiem occurs, is the second conundrum of Hel. Does she imprison her newfound friends, until they hate her, just to escape from being alone? Hel's every choice is fraught with peril.

     The third conundrum of Hel is her duality; Hel is wise and ageless, but inexperienced in dealing with living people, especially those whom she wants to keep as friends, and the rise of new emotions that such a situation would engender, in one accustomed to isolation, would overwhelm most of us (especially me).

     Hel is undoubtedly my favorite character, but it is not her godly aspects that attract me; it is Hel's humanity.