I started this post a week ago
and then got sidetracked by my amazing anniversary trip to Orkney. More on that to follow….. I’m too exhausted to work out where to start with that. It may be tricky to fit it all into one post…. so I’ll finish what I started and post this before dinner (and yet more lovely Orkney Ale/Rhubarb Gin) on the last night of our ten-year wedding anniversary trip …..
As I discussed in previous posts, most of the characters in my debut novel ‘Dunn’ are pretty horrible…..
In the end, they were meant to be. My patient and reasonably-priced writing mentor warned me that a lot of people would dislike my characters. He said that this risked engagement with my book, and he was right, but I went with it anyway because it felt like the book I wanted to write.
Because I’m not torturing myself trying to make a living from writing. I resigned myself many years ago to writing being a hobby. Like running, I love it, and I want to be as good at it as I can be. But I’m under no illusions that its going to make me a millionaire. So, I’ve got to write stories I want to write. It’s pointless to me at this point in my life to write stuff that is popular/fashionable at the moment in an attempt to get on the best seller list. That’s not my thing. But why did I want to write a book with horrible characters?
I didn’t know why when I started ‘Dunn’. Between working full time, raising a baby, and running to remain sane, writing it was enough of a challenge. It’s a miracle I finished it, frankly. I nearly quit several times.
But now I’ve been able to go part-time (thanks lovely husband) and had a year’s sabbatical to finish and publish ‘Dunn’ (thanks again, lovely husband), I’ve had chance to twiddle my thumbs (when they aren’t busy on twitter, facebook and wattpad instead of actual writing) and work out why!
I’ve decided it’s because I really like character-driven novels
I just find horrible or conflicted characters more interesting …. Mostly because their backstory has a lot of drama …. To end up as horrible/conflicted as they are, some bad stuff has to have happened to them.
I’d give a list of all the books I like with horrible characters, but I forget books within weeks of reading them, which is kind of annoying, but kind of handy as it means I also get to reread them again and again.
A lot (not all!) of the books I’ve loved have horrible characters, unreliable narrators, or both.
Two that spring to my poor memory, though, are ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’, by Tom Wolfe, and – predictably – ‘Wuthering Heights’, by Emily Bronte (can’t remember which …. Kathy and Heathcliff are your archetypal horrible characters. (And with good reason in Heathcliff’s case at least.)
A book blogger commented that ‘Aidan Dunn’ my main character, is a character ‘only their author could love’. I do have sympathy for Aidan because of the horrible background I gave him.
But if Aidan is horrible, Yvette is evil!
Until now, I’ve never really thought about why. She’s horrible from years of being stuck in the fickle, back-stabby fashion industry, before being dumped. I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for her, but maybe I would if I explored her backstory more.
What awful things could have happened to her throughout her career? How did she get into modelling in the first place?
I don’t have time to go into her background in depth at the moment because I’m focussed on the ‘Longhand Trilogy’, but I did start to wonder how someone like her could have got involved in a cult.
She just seems too savvy….
I’ve explored why she got involved in the Salvation program in a short ‘vignette’ available to my website subscribers.
The upshot? Everyone has a weakness that can be exploited by cults like this …. That was kind of the point I was trying to make. I Hope I made it and I’m glad at least some people are enjoying ‘Dunn’. As I discussed previously, it’s great to get people reading between the lines and enjoying it. Though I get why not everyone does.