People often ask me why I love writing unlikeable characters. In fact, many reviewers go so far as to say, “I didn’t like so and so at first, but in the end I did.” Take Tannus, the haughty Chief of Caysher and Kaitlin, the thorn in Tannus’s side in my Opening in Time trilogy. When Kaitlin met her, they didn’t exactly hit at off. They were two headstrong women from very different backgrounds: Tannus was responsible for the lives of a whole village of women whilst Kaitlin was more interested in the next fashion statement. But by the end of their journeys (separately and together), they emerged as different people, likeable people.
So why do I love writing unlikeable characters? My simple answer is…I’m drawn to them like a magnet. If there’s a dirty, rotten scoundrel around…I’m in there. Why? Because it gives the characters somewhere to go. And unlikable doesn’t mean uninteresting. Think of all the villains you’ve loved to hate and couldn’t tear yourself away from the pages because you simply had to find out what they would do next.
If you think about it, where would A Christmas Carol be without Ebenezer Scrooge? Everybody hated him in the beginning, but despite that, he had an appeal of sorts, and the readers stayed with the character and the story. Why? Because the reader recognises that he’s human, that’s he’s flawed. In the early stages, he’s a right nasty, callous piece of work. But let’s face it, he had his reasons but they’d just swallowed him up and mutated into avarice. So, just like Ebenezer, there’s generally a reason why some of my characters come over as unlikeable. They have a past. They’ve got baggage. But they’ve also got redeeming qualities that shine out in the end.
And just like Scrooge, the transformation is for the better. And that’s why I like ‘em.
My December release, True Karma, features Amelia Steele, a grumpy, older woman of sorts, undiagnosed on the spectrum, and detached from the world around her. But when the irrepressible songwriter, Juno Costello, bursts into her life, Amelia begins to change and is able to see the world in a new and brighter light. You can join them on their journey from Monday 14th December, when you’ll be able to grab a copy on Amazon. It will also be on Kindle Unlimited for those of you with a subscription (and because Amazon has strange and unfathomable inner workings, the paperback is already available from today).
Is Amelia unlikeable? Possibly, in the beginning… but love moves to its own rhythm, if only you stop long enough to hear it.