A Wicked Bad Time!

A reader’s perspective on untold lesfic stories

A few years ago, Kim and I had tickets to the musical Wicked. We were pretty excited about going to see this show that everyone was talking about. Well as is life, things happen and we weren’t able to go. Instead we gave our tickets to a young couple who expressed their deepest thanks and encouraged us to attend a performance at some point in the future. That future finally happened this past weekend. And I have to admit it was AMAZING! It made me think though. I mean this was the untold story of the witches of Oz. What other untold stories are out there? What other character’s badness could be explained?

And of course when I’m thinking and wondering, that usually leads me to the most amazing genre- lesfic! There are some bad characters who didn’t get a fair shake but I know there are more. If you’ve seen the musical you will surely understand what I’m talking about but if you haven’t, I think one excellent lesfic example is the character of Jack portrayed in Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou’s Elite Operative series. Jack is first introduced in Lethal Affair  and she is mean! She’s the nemesis to Domino’s character. Well, as the series continues, Jack makes another appearance. This time in Missing Lynx. With this story, Jack’s background is explained further and the reader is able to get the oh-that’s-why-Jack-is-such-a-meanie explanation. In my opinion it doesn’t really change her meanness but, Jack is a character who makes the series because of it and you can’t help but love that person inside.

Another example of seeing a different side of a character is Marianne K. Martin’s Sage Bristo. When I first met Sage in Love in the Balance I thought she was such a jerk for getting in between the true rightness of Connie and Kasey. I mean how could anyone NOT see how perfect those two characters were for each other?! It made such an impact on me that when I read the blurb for Legacy of Love which gives Sage’s story it took me a couple of years to break down and buy it. I mean why would I want to read about such a jerk who tried to step between two women who were meant to be together?  But I’m so glad that I did! What a wonderful character Sage turned out to be- she definitely deserved her own story.

So one character is explained and she is still on the edgy side, the other character is explained and she turns into a sweetheart. Does it make one character better than the other? Well I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on that! I think their stories fit them perfectly, because our lesfic authors are that amazing and capture characters that well. Still wondering though- what bad characters have been revisited in their own story to give them a past to explain their present? Which untold stories have I missed? And what characters do you think would rock a back story? Should more lesfic authors who write a bad character into their stories give that character a chance to share their reason for being so bad?

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8 thoughts on “A Wicked Bad Time!

  1. Two great examples Erin, unfortunately I’m blocked, because I keep thinking about your article. First, I haven’t read the “Sage Brisco” story for the same reason you hadn’t! I don’t like characters who come in-between the ‘soul-mates’ or are unpleasant. I’m torn about hearing the ‘bad’ (antagonist’s) background stories … on one hand, yeah, it’s good to know ‘their’ past, why they are who they are (especially if they are redeemable). On the other hand, I sometimes ‘resent’ when an author goes to explain or side-tracks to the “bad-guys” story/side, you know? Everyone has a story/a side, for why they behave as they do, but I’m ‘invested’ (I hope) in the protagonist and ultimately, does knowing someone behaves badly for a reason make anyone “feel” better? Not me, as a reader, and probably not the protagonist who’s being “hurt” (and me vicariously through them). Does that make sense? I suppose, it depends … truthfully, I hardly ‘remember’ Jack in the first one (LOVE Luka and Hayley, still my favorite of the Elite series) and so I think I’d of been more prejudiced against hearing Jack’s story if I had. It (giving background’s to the “bad-guys”) does sometimes add depth, but it depends on the story and the storyteller, I think. Romances, thriller, mysteries, how “bad” of bad-ness? …like sometimes an author will give a ‘serial-killer-like-person’ or ‘terrorist’ a background or a voice, geez, I don’t think I care about that (C.P. Rowlands’ “Lake Effect Snow” is an example). Some things (bad betrayals, etcetera) are hard for me, even in fiction, to get over. Okay, enough of that, I’ll probably think of good examples of explaining or writing a “bad” person’s story from another novel and/or movie AFTER I log off! Great article Erin, again!

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    1. Barbara,
      Please don’t let anything come between you and reading Marianne K. Martin! She is a wonderful writer and too important of a writer to not read her! I have read everything I can find and she just keeps getting better …

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    2. Barbara I LOVE how you read! I totally get what you are saying about the super bad/terrorist/serial-killer background too. I haven’t read Lake Effect Snow yet so can’t comment on that but in Baxter Clare’s Bleeding Out that character was so creepy! We didn’t really get the backstory, just had his POV for a couple of chapters and it really lent a creepy/scary vibe to the whole story. For that, I think it worked to add something to the overall story but they can definitely be triggers as well.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! And thanks for reading!

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  2. I read both series and couldn’t agree with you more. One of my favorite books of all time is Yellow Raft in Blue Water which is not a lesfic novel, but does an outstanding job of presenting the whole concept of “walking in someone’s else’s shoes” as you read the story from three different generations of women.

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  3. laftcmi and Erin, I HAVE read/own Martin’s “For Now, For Always”, so I didn’t ‘give-up’ on her as a writer … but, I think, for me (because she’s a good writer) I find her stories too ‘hurtful’, sad, realistic; the heart-break is too hard for me to experience/re-experience, remember through her characters. You know? So, I’m always “careful” on what I read, because it can have such an impact on my psyche, a painful example is Karin Kallmaker’s “Maybe Next Time” — urgh, that ‘betrayal’ stuck with me! But, I have certainly read lots of Karin’s work after …Or, ooo, “Bittersweet” by Nevada Barr … too much ‘bitter’ not enough sweet! Well, who knows maybe there’s hope for “Legacy of Love” being picked up by me 🙂

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    1. Well, I do understand that (finding stories too hurtful), Barbara. I apologize for any ‘pressure’ added to that for you by my comment! I was thinking so much of her duo “Under the Witness Tree” and “Tangled Roots” – and believing them to be important books – that I was not thinking so much of some of her earlier work. Her book about the killing of a lesbian couple in Michigan is, indeed, hard to read and heartbreaking.

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