Thursday, March 11, 2010

Anti-Heroes are my Weakness

Don't let the sweetie pies in my hut fool you, the heroes who keep me up long after I've turned the last page are anti-heroes. These bad boys aren't concerned with chivalry and honor; they are out for number one and they don't care what baby, dog, or damsel gets in their way.

Their goals are in direct conflict with the heroine's, and their motivations are sketchy at best. Appearing at first to have their feet firmly planted on the dark side, these men somehow transcend awful beginnings to inch their way across the good/evil line and into our hearts. Somehow knocking the heroine about (Jerricho Barrons), stealing from her (Drake Vireo), or trying to kill her (Currin, the Beast Lord) becomes forgivable.

The ultimate coup for a writer is turning the villain of a previous book into the hero of the next book in the series. My ultimate love: Adam Black. This fae trickster from Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series toys with the MacKelter clan and their women until he finally falls foul of his queen and ends up banished, magic-less, and hunted by his own kind. This egotistical, all-powerful immortal falls for a human woman and finally--finally--realizes the true meaning of love and sacrifice. It is one of the best transformations I've ever read, giving The Immortal Highlander a permanent, superglued-on position on my keeper shelf.

How do writers make these morally questionable bad boys slip under a reader's skin? Talent, skill, magic muse dust? Is it extremely subtle "save the cat" moments early on? I don't know the secret to writing a redeemable anti-hero. I just know a well written one gives me goose bumps.

Who are your favorite anti-heroes?


Jenre said...

Great post Ciara.
I love anti-heroes too. There's just something so delicious about them and the way they are brought low by the actions and love of a good woman (or man).

I'm reading No Rest for the Wicked my AM Riley at the moment and the vampire hero in that book, Adam, is your classic anti hero. Although he has mellowed a great deal in this book from the previous one, he's still a bit of a selfish bad boy.

Then there's also Jake Riordan from the AE books by Josh Lanyon. Everyone loves to hate him - or even just loves him :).

Carolyn Crane said...

Great post, and some very interesting questions! I love your "save the cat" thought. One of my fave anti heroes: Sebastian from Devil in Winter.

Chris said...

Jenre's named two of my favorite anti-heroes: Adam (AM Riley) and Jake (Josh Lanyon).

Zsadist from BDB was another, before he mellowed out.

Ciara said...

Jenre - I haven't read those two. Thanks for the recs!

CJ - Sebastian is a classic example. I can't believe I forgot to mention him. Blame pregnancy brain.

Chris - I know I'm in the minority in that zsadist wasn't my favorite brother, but he definitely didn't start out as hero material. Ward doesn't like pretty heroes, does she?

Renee said...

Wow, a great collection of antiheroes here: Barrons, Jake, Sebastian, Curran. All favorites of mine, as well.

A recent one I read which had a great anti hero was The Demon's Lexicon. It was YA so Nick wasn't really sexy, but boy was he a great, conflicted character.

OK, I'm off to check out No Rest for the Wicked.

Sarah said...

I love a good anti hero. Zsadist, Jerricho Barrons and Jake Riordan are the three who immediately spring to mind. They're also heroes I read again and again! :)

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