Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Loving Our Bad Boys by Betsy Ashton

Why is it that we fall in love with our bad boys? I don't mean in real life, although that was true once for me when I fell in love with a budding rock star, until he became a star and lost his way in the drug scene.

I mean, why do we like our bad boys in our books? I ask that because I have never written a story about a bad boy. My Mad Max series has strong male figures, but Max's boyfriend can't be confused with a bad boy. Johnny Medina is a decent guy who loves Max. Period.

My serial killer is the closest to a bad ass dude as I've written, yet she is a female bad ass dude. I didn't fall in love with her, but I became entranced by her story. After all, she has a "storied" career of what she sees as righteous kills. Her fans find themselves rooting for her, even as she struggles with her own psychological mysteries. She doesn't know how she would be defined in the DSM and frankly doesn't care.

So, why do I want to write about a bad boy? Because they look so deliciously entertaining. Years ago, I wrote a romance which I never sent out. It doesn't fit the genre model. The characters are both around forty. One is married; one wears a wedding band, but her marital status is unclear. When they fall in love, the conflict intensifies along with the heat. He's married; she might be. Is he a bad boy for being married and loving a potentially married woman? So far, he's the baddest dude I've tried to write.

I read about bad boys all the time. I love thrillers and suspense stories. My fictional heroes range from Jack Reacher to Mitch Rapp to Jack Bauer to Mr. Reese in the old Person of Interest television show. They kill. They're good at it. Very good. They are sexy in a dangerous sort of way. They kill people who need killing. They hide in plain sight.

Oh, hell. That Thing in Eyes Without A Face is a female version of all them with a dash of Dexter. I guess I can write about a bad ass. Bad ass dudettes need equal billing.

What do you think?


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series. Her stand-alone serial killer novel, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, is a departure from her normal fare.


Jannine Gallant said...

I've written a few badass heroes, but my favorites (the ones with the most personality and inner conflict) seem to be type B rather than type A. I'm currently writing an extremely badass heroine. She was a sniper for a private, semi-sanctioned group who rescues kidnap victims. Basically, she killed targets. But seeing her teammate die tipped her over the edge, and she quit, only to be thrust into a volatile situation not of her own making. I like badass women because they can be more conflicted about this trait than your standard hero (although your serial killer doesn't seem to be conflicted at all), and that creates emotional turmoil. I, for one, am not necessarily in love with always having a badass hero, so go you for changing it up, Betsy! BTW, I LOVED Person of Interest and was so bummed when it was taken off the air! They didn't pull any punches, and nearly every character was a mix of good and bad. I think there's something to that to draw in readers/viewers.

Rolynn Anderson said...

My hero/heroines are feisty rather than bad ass... if they have those bad ass moments, it's because I've given them some kind of physical or mental quirk they have to deal with/defend that creates conflict with normal people. How did I get to this place (motif) I don't know. My assumption is that bad ass types remain on the fringes of society, so that's another problem for my voice/theme...down deep my main characters yearn to find 'family' and that journey is a theme in my books. Though I enjoy reading about Jack Reacher...writing about a character like him would be a stretch. You go, Betsy!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

I'm with you, Rolynn. I cheer for bad ass characters, but mainly those someone else has written. Characters like Frank Moses and company from the movie RED. Then again, I've struggled to get through more than one suspense novel, not because the stories weren't riveting, but because I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack just from the reading. I'm the first to admit I'm a total weenie and having a bad ass or worse, a sociopath, in my head as I write is difficult for me to pull off. I go there occasionally, but it's far from my happy place. I'm in awe of authors like you, Betsy, who not only live in the genre, but manage to create characters I would shun in real life but root for within the pages.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I think there's a difference between bad boys and bad ass boys. And I have to say my heroes don't qualify 100%. I think they've come close. I can think of a couple that were almost bad boys and a couple of others who were sort of bad ass. Jeez. I guess I'm half-stepping!

Andrea Downing said...

I think we like bad boys as heroes because they're more complex, there's more to work with, the inner conflicts are deeper. Plus there's more for the heroine to work on, win over, or more difficult for her to be won over. My take. My bad boy actually had a heart of gold, but outwardly he seemed like a real love 'em and leave 'em type. I enjoyed writing that.

Diane Burton said...

When I think of a bad boy, I'm reminded of the motorcycle-riding, cigarette-smoking boys our mothers warned us about. I like the reformed bad boy. You know, the one who returns home and everybody remembers he was the town's bad boy. Now, he's a doctor or a sheriff. As far as writing bad ass characters, I'm not sure. Some of my heroines are bad ass. My heroes tend to be strong and patient. But, we may secretly love bad asses, but we don't marry them.

Betsy Ashton said...

I have too much fun writing about people we are not supposed to like but actually do. That complexity is such fun. I have so many readers who feel guilty about rooting for the serial killer in Eyes. Giggle. I rooted for her too, although she's definitely bad ass.

Leah St. James said...

I'm not sure I'm such a fan of bad boys, or not as the romantic lead. They're usually full of themselves, which I find irritating. At the same time, they usually exhibit a lot of confidence which is attractive. Some have an air of excitement about them. Diane mentioned the reformed bad boy, and I think some women like the idea of reforming or "saving" them.

Ally Robertson said...

First of all, I am dying to know the identity of this budding rock star turned rock star you were involved with. What a fun story that must be! As for bad boys and bad ass boys, I LOVE them. I love a character who has a dark side. I love, love, love Dexter. I love anti-heroes. I think if you can pull off making readers root for characters with questionable morals, you've done a great job as an author. Can't wait to read about your female serial killer!