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What makes us root for the good bad guy? By Jacqui Rose

Jacqui Rose. Pic by Koobunt PhotographyAfter a two week break, I’m back with the book tour for Jacqui Rose’s new book called ‘Toxic’. Today, Jacqui talks about why we root for the good, bad guy.

Having just re-read ‘Wuthering Heights’ recently, I was struck by how much I was rooting – as always – for Heathcliff, albeit he is downright mean and abusive at times. But no matter, each time I read the book I re-fall in love with him!

So, it got me thinking what is it exactly that makes a good bad guy? I call them, good bad guys because I like to put the villains in two different categories. There’s the bad bad guy where he has no redeeming qualities and the reader is relieved to see him caught in the end, and then there’s the good bad guy, where even though he may live his life outside the law and at times be harsh and cruel, we still want him to escape capture or even sweep us off our feet!

My books are full of good bad guys and even though they do terrible things and treat people badly at times, most of my readers are rooting for them, myself included which is a strange phenomenon when we think of what they have done. In an extreme example you only have to look at Dr. Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs’, a monstrous person who’d committed horrific crimes, yet the whole way through the book, we’re still rooting for him!

I think to root for a good bad guy certainly isn’t about what they look like, though it doesn’t hurt for them to be chiselled and taut! but like all characters it’s about the emotional depth of them, and especially the emotional torment they’re suffering or have suffered.

To create a great bad guy, it’s important from the beginning the readers are behind them. He must have a level of emotional depth above and behind the hero in the story because it’s vital that readers can connect to the reason why he’s acting so badly and what it is which is driving them to such extreme behaviour.

I think this is an essential ingredient so even though the reader might be conflicted by the fact that they’re cheering on the villain of the piece, what will over-ride this moral dilemma will be the emotional connection and the sympathy through the understanding of the character as well as the sense that the bad guy is only in this position for reasons beyond their control rather than by choice.

Toxic

By me making the good bad guy complex, where on the surface it just seems like they have a desire to be bad, but at the same time creating a under the surface narrative where the nature of the behaviour is driven by love, passion or desperation – all emotions that readers can relate to – rather than the readers seeing my good bad guy as completely evil, readers will see him as merely flawed with a possibility of redemption, hopefully they will continue to root for him throughout.

In my latest book ‘Toxic’, the character of Alfie Jennings returns and he very much fits into the good bad guy category. Alfie often seems and behaves like he’s just a tough guy; ruthless and at times out and out uncaring with a driving ambition just to get and stay on top no matter who he hurts. But right at the heart of Alfie there’s a vulnerability, a softness, a man who was damaged by his upbringing, a man when he does love, loves with passion and intensity and as such, Alfie is one of my readers favourite characters which is just great, because it’s always so much more fun to write the good bad guys rather than the hero. We all love a villain!

You can buy Toxic from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Sophie Jenkins

“SophieToday on the book tour for Sophie Jenkins’ new book ‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’, Sophie talks about the struggle that most authors face and that’s writers block.

In the ‘Forgotten Guide to Happiness’, the jilted heroine Lana Green writes a depressing sequel to her first novel, a love story, and when she is forced to come up with a new idea she gets writer’s block.

The original idea was like a bigger take on Facebook posts; the first novel had all the stages of a romantic relationship, the happy photographs, the beautiful settings – and then the next thing you know, it’s all over except for the unanswerable question – what just happened? The darker side of life is always more interesting to write about than happiness and I also liked the idea of the romance from her point of view as opposed to the way her boyfriend sees it – to him, her fantasised version of him is difficult to live up to, whereas for her, portraying him in a idealised way was a sign of how much she loved him.

Because of this she loses all sense of focus when she comes to write the next book and she only becomes unblocked because of the influence of Nancy Ellis Hall, a feminist writer with dementia who fell in love with a younger man.

The character of Nancy is based on my mother who has always been a larger-than-life character and for a long time I wasn’t able to write even though I only saw her two days a week. I live in London and she lived in Wales. But I thought about her all the time and it felt as if I didn’t have any room left in my head for being creative; in the scheme of things it really wasn’t a priority. Real-life sometimes doesn’t leave much room for anything else and that’s how it should be.

To help my creativity I went on a Commando Survival Course in Buckinghamshire in November, when the snow was on the ground. I creatively built a shelter but I was more focused on surviving the cold than writing.

The Forgotten Guide To Happiness

Then I went to a Romantic Novelists’ meeting with friends and they were talking about when they write, and what they usually wear when they’re writing. It’s almost like a superstition, swapping writing tips, and I’m always on the lookout for brilliant ideas that might be helpful. One of my friends said she stays in bed and with her laptop and she doesn’t get up until she’s finished her thousand words target. That method was very appealing, until another friend told us she doesn’t start writing until she’s showered, dressed and put make-up on, because she says it’s only then that she feels ready to do a day’s work, and I got on board with that as well.

For Christmas, my sister came up with a solution. She gave me a Mint Velvet gift wrapped box and inside she had put dark grey tracksuit bottoms and a pale grey top and told me it was my new writing suit.

Wake up, shower, put on the writing suit and I’m good to go.

You can buy The Forgotten Guide to Happiness from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

How Brexit Affected My Book By Sue Moorcroft

Sue MoorcroftToday on the book tour for Sue Moorcroft’s brand new book called ‘One Summer In Italy’, Sue talks about how Brexit affected her story.

Sometimes an idea for a novel comes to me – shazam! It’s a euphoric moment as I realise that the idea has enough depth to sustain a novel and I can give the characters conflict or missions that work with the initial idea.

Sadly, hard on the heels of this moment of euphoria comes the jarring moment I fall to earth. I see A SNAG.

The idea to write about seasonal workers living in Italy came to me when I was visiting Italy to run a writing course for Arte Umbria and was speaking to their English chef who’d come out to run their kitchen for the summer. It could be a shazam! idea, I realised. We chatted about the issues attendant on living-in versus living-out, the way days were structured, how the chef got her work, how she was paid, what her work entailed and a host of other details. I should have written the book there and then, before …

… Brexit.

The referendum (June 2016) hadn’t even taken place when I decided to write about seasonal workers living in Europe. It wasn’t until I got down to work in early 2017 that I realised the significance of the freedom to work in Europe not necessarily exist in the future. SNAG. I set about solving the problem as best I could.

One Summer In Italy

I gave my heroine an Italian dad. A member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft, lives in Italy and gave me a list of popular Italian names for 30-something females, from which I chose Sofia. Opinion seemed pretty fixed that entitlement to a European passport would open borders for its bearer. I know quite a few people in Northamptonshire with an Italian parent or parents so I’m familiar with the enduring love for Italy that never seems entirely overlaid by decades of living in England. Aldo asking Sofia to promise to visit his hometown of Montelibertà was born from this, and her story began to take shape. Why hadn’t Aldo been back? Why wasn’t he in touch with his brother? Why should Sofia go on his behalf and what would she find there? Why was she so keen to travel?

I didn’t want to repeat the device for Amy, the young friend Sofia makes in Casa Felice, the hotel where they work, but had to similarly Brexit-proof it. I saw that Amy could come from a family of ex-pats, and I situated them in Germany, partly because it’s my birth country (we were an army family) and partly because my brother’s family were ex-pats in Munich for years, so I knew something of the life. Why Amy had left home was clear in my mind. What became pivotal to the plot was why she couldn’t go back.

Levi, in comparison, was easy. To support various hotels, Montelibertà had to be a tourist town. I made him a tourist. One day a man I met eulogised about the joys of riding a motor cycle around Europe and I thought, ‘There you go, Levi. You can do that.’

One Summer in Italy has turned out to have a lot to say about freedom, in various forms. And what’s worth giving up.

You can buy One Summer in Italy from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Caroline England Reveals New Book – My Husband Lies

My Husband LiesJust ahead of the book tour next week, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover to Caroline England’s new book called ‘My Husband Lies’.

What the back cover says –

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Tense, disturbing and clever, ‘My Husband’s Lies’ is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

Check out Tuesday, 29th May, which is my spot on the tour next week, where Caroline will talk about why she enjoys writing domestic noir.

You can buy My Husband’s Lies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Trisha Ashley Writers Tips

“TrishaTrisha Ashley shares her writing tips with budding writers.

Read very widely, but especially current bestsellers in the genre you’re writing for. Ask yourself what their novels are giving the reader that yours doesn’t.