Some fictional characters are a joy to write about. I paid tribute to them in my blog last week. There are others, by contrast, that I hate. Every word added to the page is a triumph of willpower. Because I immerse myself in each character’s mind and thoughts, that’s a big challenge when his or her values are very different from mine.
Nowhere was that more evident than the chapters devoted to Jeb in my latest crime thriller, The Bride’s Trail. Apart from loving his mother, he has no redeeming features. Jeb is an East End villain, selling Class A drugs and running a string of prostitutes whom he’s hooked on his wares. Greed is his sole motivator. He lies, steals and kills without a second thought. The mind of a psychopath is a depressing place indeed. You can meet Jeb, and Kat, who gets the better of him – just – in short story The Gap, a “5 minute crime thriller”.
After The Interview brought Boris, a coward, womaniser and murderer. While I hoped to make his emotions and actions understandable to readers, I doubt that he was loveable. I couldn’t love him myself. His infidelity, the bullying treatment of the Polish concierge and the paranoid execution of his best friend were almost enough to drive a writer to drink. Boris hit the bottle instead…
By comparison, I said last week that autistic Jed Gardner was my favourite character in After The Interview. That’s not the whole story. His episodes of anger and misery cast a grey cloud over my life, and a huge sigh of relief when he finally found peace of mind. I was challenged by outrageous Tony, the womanising tobacco chief executive of Up In Smoke, too. An unreconstructed chauvinist and Big Tobacco poster boy, he was fun – but I still gritted my teeth as he sold tobacco to smugglers and treated attractive women as every bit as disposable as a piece of Kleenex. Interestingly, Tony wasn’t based on a real person, but several readers thought they knew him! A case of truth being stranger than fiction?
Which fictional character do you love to hate, and why? Please drop me a line at aaabbottstories[at]gmail.com and let me know! As a British crime thriller writer, I’m open to feedback and suggestions for new angles. In fact, reader feedback is so important to me that every draft crime thriller is read by a panel of 20 beta readers before a final rewrite!