I was asked why I put my characters through hell. Here’s my reply (spoiler).
It’s a good question you pose about Eddie, and why I’m so nasty to him all the time. I’ve heard a few people say they dislike Eddie to begin with. And that is music to my ears.
Think how much more satisfying the conclusion is because you’ve seen him develop into quite an honourable and decent sort before your very eyes, with no gimmicks and no tricks and no sudden jerks to his progression even after all the horrors he’s endured. It’s all in the master plan, hehe.
If I made him nice to being with, would you have rooted for him to get together with Jilly quite so fiercely? Would you have enthused so much about him being a decent bloke at the end of the story? And this partly why I struggled with him at the beginning of Angel [the new book]. He’d progressed into a decent guy already, and how boring can a decent protagonist be? Sure, there are plenty out there and they make great reading sometimes, but I find them two-dimensional for the most part – inject some wildness into them, infect them with spirit, and watch them living their lives in a way that you or I would never dare.
So in the beginning of Angel, he is caustic and downright rude sometimes. But the contrast when he meets a Particular Person, where he is almost shy, demure even, is amplified. I like playing in the extremities of his nature, it’s far more entertaining. And who wouldn’t love to be able to say the things he does and get away with it; I’d love to be able to think of his one-liners as he does, on the spot, when it’s needed.
I may have characters to whom I am not unnecessarily harsh, but, tut, where’s the spark then?
Which is best: a guy wins a million bucks, buys a house with a reclining chair and watches Jeremy Kyle all day every day while eating vanilla ice cream – yay, he’s made it big and now he can chill out, right? Or, the guy who wins a million bucks and learns how to skydive and scuba dive?
What if I said the second guy was blind? Now you’ve got a story.