Why I Love The Bad Guy
I've had some criticism over loving "the bad guy" in my writing a little too much. It's true that I enjoy the role of the antagonist, maybe even slightly more than the hero or heroine. As a result the bad guy usually ends up having a bigger role in my stories than the protagonist. Apparently, you're not supposed to do this. You need to give the reader a likeable "good guy" to connect with so they can back him. There should be some very black and white distinctions between the good guy and the bad guy, not just shades of grey. I understand this. But ... I like shades of grey. When Phillip Phillips was told on American Idol to get rid of the guitar and not wear grey, he came out with his guitar wearing grey on grey. I was proud.
Someone told me that in my last novel, No One To Hear You Scream, my characters were all losers and scumbags, even my heroine. I'd probably have to agree on that, for the most part. They really are losers in one way or another. And I loved my bad guy loser in that book more than all of them.
Two books in particular that I've read, both have main characters that could be considered losers and remained that way throughout the story. The Delivery Man by Joe McGinniss Jr. and A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth. I loved both of these books. And what about James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice? There isn't even a hero in that story, just two villains conspiring to kill someone. I suppose that's the difference between noir and thriller. The stories I write have elements of both, I think. In my reading I generally prefer noir, where you don't know if the villain will die or get away in the end or if justice will prevail or not, or if the ending will be a happy one.
While I would agree that most readers expect justice to prevail in a story and want a strong protagonist who's basically a good person but with some flaws and inner turmoil, and also have a good sense of humor and be charismatic, cracking funny one-liners (yawn), to me it's all such a boring formula. Sometimes it's just way more fun to give all those traits to the bad guy and let the reader twist a bit.
Maybe it's because I want to understand the villain, dig deep into their psyche and discover what makes them so bad, what makes them do the things they do. I also like that bad guys aren't confined by boundaries. They can do what they want, be as bad as they want and get away with it. Nobody expects them to behave a certain way. The hero of a story has so much more responsibility. They have to behave themselves, they have to save the day, triumph over evil forces, and ensure the reader leaves the experience feeling that justice prevailed, all the while being likeable. That's a lot of pressure on a character. The bad guy on the other hand, doesn't have any responsibility other than breaking all the rules, and giving the good guy as much trouble as she can. To me, that's where the fun is. And it's why I love to write the bad guy.
Every time I hear in the news about someone who's charged with a horrible crime that makes the world hate them, I wonder what happened in their lives to make them do the things they did. While I feel for the victims naturally, I also see the person behind the monster and wonder about what goes on inside of them. Yeah, I probably should have been a psychiatrist.
About The Author:
Julia Madeleine is a thriller writer and tattoo artist living in the Toronto area with her husband and teenaged (future tattooist) daughter. For a year she lived in the country on a 30-acre property in the middle of nowhere which became the inspiration for her novel, No One To Hear You Scream.
BUY THE BOOK: The Truth About Scarlet Rose
Book Description: The Truth About Scarlet Rose
Scarlet Rose, the once remarkably beautiful, queen of the burlesque scene in 1960s Toronto, has aged into a decrepit bitter alcoholic, living on welfare and her daughter's handouts - a daughter she forced into the adult entertainment industry at the age of sixteen to support the family. Now in 1983, Scarlet's wealthy ex-husband has been found tortured and murdered in a hotel room, and her twenty-two-year-old daughter Fiona, must help the police find the killer.
While Fiona navigates her way through the dark recesses of her family's history, uncovering shocking secrets that threaten to destroy her, Scarlet Rose employs the skills she learns in Sun Tzu's The Art of War, fixating on making on making a new life for herself using other people's money. But when she befriends a lonely American woman sitting on an inheritance, greed that knows no bounds, cold-blooded murder and identity theft, might just prove to be Scarlet's undoing.