by Sean Chercover
It’s been a very exciting 10 days, since the release of BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD. The reviews have been universally great (so far), the book signing events well attended, and I think I may even be getting used to being interviewed, instead of doing the interviewing.
But last week I was doing an interview and the reporter said, “I loved the book, and the writing, but I really didn’t like your protagonist, Ray Dudgeon. He’s not a very nice guy. Couldn’t you have made him more likable?”
And one to which I didn’t really have a good answer. Perhaps I could’ve made Ray a nicer guy, but I would’ve been creating a different character, and writing a different book.
Ray’s an idealist living in a corrupt world, and he’s got a lot of anger. He's psychologically damaged, but he’s no sociopath. I don’t approve of all the things he does, and I don’t expect that most readers will, either. But he interests me. He’s not a bad man (most of the time) and he’s trying to become a better man. He’s just not very good at it. There’s a lot of room for him to grow, in future books, and I'm rooting for him.
And I find that many of the series characters I love to read are not necessarily the nicest guys around, either.
Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor (and Burke).
Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder.
Derek Raymond’s nameless Factory detective.
Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins (and Fearless Jones).
All of these series heroes can be ornery at the best of times. And at the worst, they can be . . . well, you get the idea. And then there are the classics - guys like Hammer and Spade and Marlowe and Archer. They were loyal and tough and had many redeeming features, but they were often far from likable.
I’m going to resist the temptation to list all my favorite bastard heroes, because I want to hear yours. And while we’re on the subject, feel free to post your favorite likable heroes too.
Which less-than-nice series heroes interest you?
Which series heroes would you like to be buddies with?