When the Good is Bad by Erin Saluta
A reader’s perspective of the characters we SHOULD hate
One of my friends is especially vulnerable to my weird thought process inquiries that pop up. When most people are having normal conversations I am peppering her with questions like who she would rather have a first date with Dolly Parton or Cher? How the lantern of Green Lantern works (she’s my go-to person for all things comic, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter)? Which she would rather be- a vampire or a werewolf? It was her answer to the last question that made me laugh and of course push even more. Would I rather be a heartless scourge of evil or a possessed minion of the undead? Neither! But how could she not choose between Team Edward and Team Jacob? That’s just insane!!
So I’ll admit it. I have read the Twilight series AND I watched the movies. But she is right. A vampire is an inherently evil being in the history of literature. Werewolves same thing. Both creatures created to invoke fear and inflict many nights of sleepless terror (at least for me!). Yet here was a story where the vampires were the good guys and someone wanted to willingly become one! What? That’s crazy talk!! Vampires and werewolves are supposed to be the bad guys who die so that the good guys save the day, the world, and humanity in general. And it made me think. Are the good guys always good and the bad guys always bad?
Like so many other people I recently succumbed to peer pressure and started watching Orange is the New Black series. I was skeptical because I mean really, a prison show with a lesbian theme- how stereotypical can we be? But I wanted to support the concept of lesbians in entertainment media even though, did they really have to choose a prison where all the characters were going to be horrible abscesses of society? Right? Because they were tried and convicted by our judicial system for breaking societal rules- they had to be bad people to have been sent to prison. That’s why they are locked up! Right? Well, the equivalent of a full day gone and all three seasons watched and I’m actually invested in these characters. I would even venture to say I like some of them! How can that be though? They are supposed to be the bad elements of society.
So back to my question, are the good always good and the bad always bad? I think our genre of lesfic answers this question extremely well- NO! It seems that this genre has taken every type of bad profession and made it one where we are practically in love with the leading bad girl so much that we are pulling a Bella and practically begging to be turned. Sharon Bowers’ Lucifer Rising was a start for me. A DEA agent turned drug lord. How can that not be an immediate- ooooo Jude (main character) is going to be someone I don’t like because she is plying the world with drugs for monetary gain. Yet like the characters of Orange is the New Black, she has a story. She has a history so that I am rooting for her to win in the end!
Same thing with the character of Lacey in Tonya Muir’s Breaking Away. I wanted the mafia hit woman to have the happy ever after that she deserved dang-it! The bad-girl theme has even taken to outer space because technically Andi Marquette’s Torri is an outlaw in the Far Seek Chronicles. It says so right on the back cover. But I wanted Torri and Kai to overcome all the situations that are worse than anything Torri ever did and find true happiness with each other. Ali Vali has created a character that probably would have her own fan page if she was real in Cain Casey. Vali’s Devil series is awesome and it is all based on the success of one woman’s family in the criminal business. And if anyone’s desires landed them in prison, how many wouldn’t be hoping to be rescued by the Amazon’s lead by Ice from Susanne M. Beck’s three book series: Redemption; Retribution; and Restitution.
Just saying, but for all those OITNB fans out there who have a thing for Alex Vause she is nothing compared to Ice in Beck’s series- check it out if you have a chance. This is all good though, because deep down everyone is a person moving through life with what they can to survive. At the core of most people is a good soul waiting to shine through and our lesfic authors capture them with great skill that I absolutely love and thrive on (as any book-a-holic would!). These characters are people after all.
So what about all the non-people characters that we love? Edward and Jacob aren’t the only heartthrobs in the preternatural world are they? Heck no! Our lesfic writers totally put Ed and Jake to shame! I mean who doesn’t feel for Valentine and Alexa in the Nell Stark and Trinity Tam Everafter series? They didn’t ask to have their lives turned upside down when the preternatural world kicked their butt but love survived. We found a hero in both characters as they went to extremes to keep their love together and rise above the evil and chaos trying to suck their souls.
Who didn’t want A.J. and Clarissa to reconnect after centuries of separation in Jett Abbott/Isabella’s Scarlett Masquerade? Given they were having to fight other vampires to do it, but they were the good vampires. The one’s that deserved a happy ever after (that would actually last forever). And how many people weren’t chuckling when Robin showed up at an AA meeting in order to help conquer her addiction (to sucking human blood from their necks!) in Alison Grey and Jae’s Good Enough to Eat? No. Our authors know vampires and how to make them lovable characters we are cheering for and making us willing to let them bite us (as long as we don’t get in trouble with our girlfriends/wives right?). Even werewolves are done right! I mean who doesn’t want a big, cuddly, 600lb liger to snuggle with in the cold of winter? Griffin Westmore rocks that role in Jae’s Second Nature!
For other readers, what bad gone good have I missed? Which characters out there present with the worst profession of all time but as a reader you become invested in them? Were our parents right? Are the bad one’s the one’s to watch out for because they are going to take all of our money in book sales? I do know that our lesfic authors are amazing storytellers and make these bad girls likeable to the point of wanting their happy ever after!