Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Certainly, the Bad Hair Day series as a whole has a moral or a theme, if you will. I see the two as one and the same. So here’s one moral you can take away from my books: You can move on from past mistakes. Redemption is the theme here. When the series starts, Marla—my hairdresser sleuth—is still atoning for a tragedy that happened when she was nineteen. A toddler in her care when she was babysitting drowned in the backyard pool. Guilt drives her. It motivates her to solve the crime in Permed to Death. But when she meets handsome Detective Dalton Vail, this guilt prohibits her from progressing in their relationship. He has a teenage daughter, and she doesn’t ever want children. She has to forgive herself before the future can blossom for her.
So here’s another lesson she learns: You can still be a good person even if you’ve done wrong. The accident that happened in the past wasn’t really her fault, but she blames herself. Deep down, she knows she is a good person. She strives to be better and solving mysteries is one way she does this. She also volunteers for the Child Drowning Prevention Coalition.
As Marla and Dalton grow closer, Marla comes to care for his daughter, Brianna. Their relationship still has its bumps, because Dalton also has some past baggage to let go before he can move ahead. But finally, by Shear Murder, Marla has accepted that she’s stronger with Dalton and Brianna for a family. Wait! Another moral is coming: Finding love can strengthen you, not cause dependency.
But Marla is still nervous. As their nuptials approach, she buries herself in solving another case rather than face wedding details and bickering relatives. Finally, she finds the courage to accept her new family with enthusiasm and love. She sheds her fears and looks forward to a new tomorrow. So here we go again: No matter how glum today looks, tomorrow is a better day.
I guess you could say that the morals in my stories involve my sleuth and her character growth. The focus isn't on the criminal and how he evolved, or what effect the crime has on the victim’s family or on society in general. My cozy whodunits are centered around the sleuth and her life, not on the crime. That’s why I like reading cozies, too. They’re about someone like you or me who is a lot braver and who has the guts to chase down the bad guy. Along the way, we live vicariously in her world and see how her relationships grow and change.
How about you? Do you consciously determine the theme ahead of time, or does it emerge from your writing as you develop the story? Do your tales focus on the criminal's motivations and the repercussions of the crime, or more on the sleuth's life in general?
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
By: Kathleen Pickering
Here I am, a mere mortal and I’m morphing. I am undergoing a change in identity without super powers, scientific experimentation or surgery.
Within the next few months I will be assuming a new identity through Brand Marketing. My mug will be little affected. My personality will most certainly root itself in the duo identity. I will change my website easily, but it might take me, Kathleen Pickering, a while to get used to the new moniker I will assume.
Now, as a romance writer for Harlequin, I will remain as my established self: Kathleen Pickering. However, for my paranormal and urban fantasy works that I will most probably self publish, I will morph into someone new, and hopefully, wonderful. This is so exciting!
Think about it. You get a chance to pick a new mystique, a new name. Revamp your whole look, should you choose. Who would you be?
My brand specialist and I are tossing around author names for my new, self-publishing identity. Here are a few of the choices:
Believe me, the list goes on and on. My advisor insists I should choose a name that not only reflects my genre, but is a name I can live with for a long, long time. I don’t want to do this more than once.
How did I choose my list of names? I used a baby name book. Ran through the girls names I liked and made a list. Then ran through guy names I would use as last names. Then played with them to see what appeared. By the time I finished I had over 30 names. And, believe it or not, I could live with myself under any of those chosen names. Talk about multiple personalities!
One of the many reasons for the pen name? Liability. I have already self-pubbed under my legal name, but I’ve learned that if I plan to publish myself and be professional about it, it’s best if my real self stays at home.
Establishing a Limited Liability Corporation is a good idea, as well. Obtaining a post office box in the name of my LLC and/or my pen name is another step I shall take. These are points all self-pubbed authors should consider. Whether e-pubbing digitally or offering POD hard copies, authors should consider how exposed they want to be. Which brings me to another good reason for this new direction – Security! In this time of online hacking, credit card and banking security terrorism, working under a pen name and LLC help reduce risk to me and my family at little expense.
Now you say, but what about ME?? I like ME. I like my current name and who I am. I don’t want to change. What about my back lists? My works already on Amazon?
Well, ME is still fabulous but vanity is not worth the risk in which I can potentially place myself and my family. So, I humbly suggest that if you choose to take the self-publishing route, consult your attorney on the legalities behind the process and decide what works best for you.
As for back lists, again, it’s personal choice. I made my first self-publishing efforts last year; not that long ago. One by one, I will pull the books already out, announce the changes through my social media channels and re-release the works under my new name.
I have already begun revamping Mythological Sam-The Call. The book is currently written in first person. I’m switching to third person and I love the new personality arising with the story. We’re creating a new cover as well. So, if you own the current version of Mythological Sam-The Call, it will become a collector’s item. Congratulations!
Why make so drastic a change? We all know plenty of successful, well-branded authors using their own names. Since I’m relatively new to the publishing scene, I’m choosing to switch before the momentum increases. The industry is morphing before our eyes. I will, too.
This takes me to an additional reason for changing my name. I plan to brand a personality around my works that defines me as an Author and a Publisher —and if done properly, this personality will appeal across genres. Appealing to multiple genres is important to me.
Think of the YA’s that adults practically tear from their kids hands to read for themselves. (Twilight or Harry Potter, anyone?) Or the mysteries that appeal to romance readers because of the finely-honed heroes/ heroines. Or best of all, consider the books by authors like Patterson, Childs, Roberts and King. Even if folks haven’t read them, they know who those authors are. Why? Because these authors and their books are well branded. Look at the fabulous Dr. Seuss! Everyone knew his name. (God Rest His Soul.) Why? Branding. I can guarantee you these authors have, and had in Dr. Seuss’s case, no trouble living with themselves.
Bottom line: with this changing industry, I’m changing, as well. I am investing in my long- term future safety and repositioning my self-publishing line of business into a position that will handle my success safely and securely.
I will continue to give my agent and editor first dibs on everything I write. I still honor and seek brick and mortar publishing houses over self-publishing because they have the experience, the marketing savvy and influence in the business. However, if they do not express interest in my manuscripts, my alter-ego will take over and funnel the stories to my self-publishing line of business.
The best part? I have yet to meet this new author I am creating. Not unlike Frankenstein, she is still under my Brand Marketer’s tarp. Bwaaaaahaaaahaaa. I will let you know who she is after the lightning strikes!
So, let me ask. If you were to develop an author alter ego who would he/she be, and after creating this being, could you live with yourself?
Monday, February 27, 2012
Apologies for the delay - for some reason this didn't post as scheduled!
The Guardian book blog's speculation on Friday that JK Rowling's recently announced adult book deal may be a crime novel created a flurry of comments, many of which were (to my surprise) extremely negative. Many of the responders were dismissive of Rowling's work and then there were those who said that they really couldn't give a toss what she was writing now. Really? One of the biggest bestselling authors inks a new deal and people couldn't care less?
It started me thinking about attitudes towards successful authors which seem to range from:
1. I could have written that drivel (my answer to that is always, well, why didn't you then?!)
2. I'm above reading such 'populist crap'...
3. I would be a bestseller too if only I'd had... (insert appropriate response - opportunity, marketing behind me etc. etc.)
Now, of course the Guardian's opinion is pure speculation only - based on the fact that her editor at Little, Brown is well-known for his crime and thriller writers (the likes of which include Dennis Lehane and Val McDermid) and that Rowling apparently has a penchant for crime writing and Dorothy L. Sayers. But if the Guardian's suspicions turn out to be true, it will be interesting to watch reactions to Rowling crossing the genre wall into mystery and thriller writing (and what critics and readers alike say about the novel once it comes out).
If some of the comments on the Guardian book blog are any guide, Rowling already faces a heady mixture of anticipation (from her fans) and derision (from the naysayers).
So what would your reaction be if Rowling's first foray into adult fiction (and I mean that in the non-erotic sense) is as a crime writer? Do you share the ambivalence shown by many of the commentators? Given that Rowling has already said her new book will be very different to her Harry Potter series, it seems clear that
the work is unlikely to be fantasy. Crossing genres is no mean feat - especially for the woman who created the world of Harry Potter - so what do you think of such a decision?
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I’m teaching an online writing class from Feb 20 – Mar 2, hosted by YARWA, the online chapter for Young Adult Romance Writers of America. We’ve chatted about how to get over the hump and finish a book once you’ve stalled out for various reasons. Some people might call this writer’s block, but for me, I refuse to acknowledge anything like that exists. It’s too easy to blame an affliction we seemingly have no control over. I prefer to think my brain is secretly trying to tell me something that I’m not hearing, even though we are close neighbors.
When I can’t hear my brain SCREAMING at me to stop writing, apparently my body can hear that pesky 3-pounds of mush. My fingers boycott me and quit hitting the keyboard or I find many excuses to distract myself—even doing laundry, for cryin’ out loud. Now that’s desperate.
I’ve learned to listen to my body when this happens. It’s my interpreter when it comes to “brain speak.” One way to get me back on track is first understand and accept that my brain is trying to tell me something about the plot, character revelation/motivation, or certain scenes aren’t working and could be better. Usually this part only lasts hours or a day or two, or a good night’s sleep. I’ve found answers for my dilemma in commercials, the NOVA channel, and even have found the complete ending of a book from watching an old skateboard flick, starring Christian Slater, called “Gleaming the Cube.”
But when I can’t find the answer alone, I’ve found a tried and true method for me is cornering ANYONE to listen to me ‘splain it. Usually this poor person is my husband, John. We can chat over breakfast, spending quality time talking about how to kill people and get away with it, or he listens to my ramblings as we drive. (Your gas mileage may vary.) One thing amazes me about this process. It doesn’t seem to matter who I corner or how I ‘splain it, I invariably come up with the answer on my own as I talk it out. It seems the brain needs the mouth to communicate back to my brain. What a weird Détente!
If you haven’t tried this, do it. It will blow your mind. Literally! I’ve concluded that since I spend most of my day in my own head—without speaking—that when I finally DO speak, my brain is listening and finally sends messages that result in solutions. Things I wouldn’t have explored purely thinking about them. Apparently explaining things to someone outside my “brain trust”—whether they ultimately contribute to the process or not is irrelevant—forces me to work things out in a way I can’t do on my own. The act of being more thorough in my explanation seems to be a critical element to my process.
But given the old adage about a tree in the forest, does it take someone else listening to get results to my dilemma? Or is this the first stages of schizophrenia and my way of justifying it? I haven’t ranted to me, myself, and I on this yet. That day might come on its own—along with a nice helping of meds.
Please share with us:
1.) How do YOU jumpstart your writing process?
2.) What have been your strangest diversions when you should have been writing?
Below is a video on how the publishing industry works from author to store:
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
That story (which technically I wasn't allowed to read) helped me graduate from Nancy Drew to the world of grisly homicide. I never developed my mother's taste for potboilers, but I quickly discovered Poe and later, Truman Capote.
Some of these murder stories remain standouts--over the years, I've never quite shaken their chill. Here's my list of the top five most disturbing homicides in fiction:
1. The Cask of Amontillado
I'll never forget my horror as I read the story of a chained Fortunato being sealed behind a brick wall. It was the cheerfulness of his murderer that most unnerved me. Never again would I put my full trust in a smiling face.
2. The Tell-Tale Heart
Another Poe classic, this story of guilt and obsession is also told from the the murderer's point of view. What sound could be louder than the victim's heart beating from beneath those floorboards?
3. The Silence of the Lambs
This story is the perfect intersection of creepiness and terror. It blends cannibalism with the skin-deep antics of a cross-dressing tailor.
4. The Godfather
This book counts the many, many ways one can eliminate the business competition. My favorite was being garroted by a wire from behind.
Technically, death by monster-shark isn't murder. But twenty years after reading this novel, I'm still won't put a toe in the ocean. Jaws killed my love of swimming. So I'm counting it.
So what tales of murder have most disturbed you over the years? Are blood and gore as disturbing to you as the psychological aspect of a crime?
Monday, February 20, 2012
Most writers at one time or other get asked "is your protagonist you?" - in the belief, maybe, that all of us secretly yearn to place ourselves in our work (hey, as a character, you get to have all the fun!). When I completed Consequences of Sin and handed it to my husband to read, his immediate reaction was "I know Ursula is you, but who is Lord Wrotham, because he sure as hell isn't me!" I of course vigororously denied that Ursula was in any sense, me, but, in many ways, she was a direct projection of who I would have liked to have been had I lived in Edwardian times.
It was only when my sister, Bridget, got upset that I had named the housemaid after her (completely unwittingly, I might add), that I realized how much family and friends were trying to see if they recognized anyone in my books. No one seemed to believe that I hadn't based any of my characters on anyone I actually knew in real life (well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
This question has got me thinking about other writers and whether they incorporate themselves or other people they know into their novels. I'm sure all of us has subconsciously done this to some extent - but how many of us have deliberately chosen to model a character on someone we know?
While I often use real historical figures to inform my writing, I have never deliberately based a character of anyone in particular. To me that seems to be crossing the line into non-fiction (and opening up a potential can of worms if any descendants get upset!)
What about you? Have you ever deliberately incorporated someone you know as a character (victim, hero or perpetrator!)?
Did you try and disguise them to ensure the person didn't realize the character was based on them?
If you have used a real person, did that person recognize themselves when they read it? If so, how did they react (...any lawsuits pending...?!)
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I suppose it was inevitable once Amazon started their own publishing wing. A company that was founded on the premise that you need never set foot in a bookstore again (which expanded to never setting foot in any store, for many) has started opening...wait for it...stores. They're sussing out their first bricks & mortar location in Seattle, where their corporate headquarters is located.
Mind you, this won't really be a bookstore; apparently the focus will be on pricier items such as tablet computers (and, I'm guessing, their rapidly expanding Kindle line).
It's an astonishing reversal for the company that insures there's a UPS driver coming down my street every day, sometimes even multiple times a day.
Mind you, I don't intend to launch a bout of Amazon bashing here--I'm as guilty as my neighbors when it comes to online ordering. I signed up to have kitty litter, toilet paper, and coconut water shipped to my door every month once I realized that it was cheaper than buying those items in the supermarket. I did the vast majority of my Christmas shopping online this year, a significant chunk of it while getting my hair cut, which is a far cry from past Decembers when I drove from store to store trying to cross everyone off my list. And most importantly for me as a writer, thanks to Amazon I consistently sell backlist copies of books that vanished from store shelves years ago.
So I'm definitely no Amazon hater. And once Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and other stores issued statements declaring that they would (understandably) refuse to stock titles from Amazon's new publishing imprint, launching their own physical retail wing made sense.
Still, it is ironic, isn't it? When companies like Amazon first arrived on the scene in the heady days of the dotcom boom, they loftily promised that within a decade, no one would have to leave their house for anything (fantastic news for agoraphobes; maybe not so great for the rest of us). Websites would sell everything from beds to orange juice to mouthwash and deliver it to your front door, all for less than you'd pay in a store since the overhead of rent, utilities, and payroll would be largely removed from the equation.
And lo and behold, here we are a little more than a decade later, and they were largely right. Except that there no longer are a slew of websites providing the online equivalent of roaming from store to store: instead it's a one-stop shopping experience. Amazon has become a behemoth, the place where you can buy pretty much anything you desire and have it delivered to your front door, usually within two days. And now, after driving so many mom and pop stores out of existence, they're backtracking and opening a place where you can get the personal touch; one-on-one interaction with a sales staff.
I have very mixed feelings about all of this. For one thing, the tech boom has spawned a modern day equivalent of the types of monopolies that held the nation at their mercy around the turn of the last century, with Amazon and Microsoft replacing Standard Oil and U.S. Steel. In some regards, aren't Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg contemporary robber barons?
And now that so many stores that I loved have shuttered, it seems unseemly that the company that helped drive them out of existence is stepping in and taking over the shelf space they helped destroy. (For the record, I buy all of my physical books in bookstores, and I still buy as many as I did before I got my Kindle. I've actually found that having an eReader has increased my weekly book consumption).
But I'm also guilty of getting those deliveries every month, of using them to make my holiday shopping easier; and I've received the gains in sales that wouldn't have been possible if my books were only available in print. And I have many friends whose contracts weren't renewed, but managed to continue publishing their books independently thanks to Amazon, an outlet that wouldn't have been available to them otherwise.
So I'm curious; what do you all think about Amazon's latest move?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
But who owns the rights to the photos you post? What happens, for example, if I imagine a character looking like Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate: SG1? Can I just copy his photo off the Web? According to one person I asked, yes I can, if Pinterest attributes the source. In some cases, though, I’ve cut out photos from magazines of celebrities or people on society pages and scanned them into my computer because they look like my characters. Can I use these photos? I doubt it, because I don’t have the people’s permission. It seems safer to provide your own pictures.
This promises to be another time consuming promotional activity. I'd have to learn how to use the site, determine a theme for each board, and upload the photos. Do we really need more work to do? Or is this a great promotional opportunity we might be missing if we let it go? There’s always the pressure to jump on the next cart that wheels along. But hop on too many wagons, and you might fall off.
Oh, and you have to request an invitation to join this site. Then you register using your Facebook or Twitter account. This is what the site says:
How Pinterest Works
After you have created an Account (defined below) to become a Member of Pinterest, you may use the Services to create, view and follow visual collections. In order to create a visual collection, you may (i) upload images from your computer by selecting the "Add a Pin" section of the Site, (ii) use the Application to take and upload images, or (iii) install and use our "Pin It" browser toolbar to upload images, by following the instructions provided on the "About" section of the Site. Please note that your visual collections will be publicly viewable by all visitors to the Site and Application. In order to follow the visual collections of other Members, you may search for other visual collections via the Site and Application and select the option to "Follow" such Members. http://pinterest.com
Here are some tips, kindly shared by another author on one of my listserves:
So do any of you already participate in Pinterest? Or would you do it now that you’re aware of this site?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
By: Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
My muse returns to the spotlight for Valentine’s Day, not because I love writing more than I love my husband (please, let’s not go there) but because when I decided to join my husband in courting danger, I did so for my Muse—and only for my Muse.
It all started with this volcano in the resort village of Pucon in southern Chile. The approximate elevation of Volcan Villarica is 9,750 feet from sea level. Villarica is smoking. She is alive, well and dangerous. As a matter of fact, the photo above of Villarica with smoke billowing from her crater was taken from Pucon by my sister-in-law at the time we were approaching the top.
Now, in all fairness, Villarica has been smoking for a very long time. She belches now and again. Last lava flow was 1984. This photo shows its last path:
Our guide, David (shown in the picture) promised that there is seismic equipment to detect impending volcanic activity enough in advance that we were free from danger of an eruption. However, when they give you tools like hard hats, ice axes (which he said would be our best friend on the climb—and was right!), crampons for your boots, and cold weather gear for a five hour climb to the top, you sort of figure you’re not going on a picnic.
I tell you what. When my Muse and I rode the first leg up the mountain on a chair lift with no seat belt, I held on for dear life (I’m terrified of heights) while my flighty Muse started jumping around the chair lift, wanting to take off. You see, Sam Wilson in my Mythological Sam series will have a demon battle on a volcano at one point, so I took my girl up there to really test her wings. As I had expected, she started pulling in scenes from the moment I pulled on my first boot.
While I cavalierly mention the danger factor, I have to admit that when I agreed to make this climb, I hadn’t considered danger. I’ve hiked so many less grueling places before that the words volcano, toxic gas, rock slides and fissures in glaciers were terms relegated to National Geographic, not my physical well-being. Reality started to settle in when they gave us instructions on how to use the ice ax to keep from sliding off the glacier should we lose footing and fall. I mean really!
Friend, Gustavo, is holding his breath on the crater rim here. (Crazy, I know! At least I knew enough to get off the edge.) The gas literally burns the inside of your nose. Can’t imagine the lung damage should one breath in those fumes for too long. The buzz word here is toxic. We were lucky there wasn’t a wind shift.
On the flip side of all this danger, when walking in a slow, steady rhythm in single file across the glaciers or up the rock faces, I found myself one-on-one with nature, once again, renewing my awe in her Presence. The captivating views sent my Muse soaring. In my mind, I was out there flying right beside her.
These spectacular vistas changed my point of view from ground level, for sure!
Once we came off the glacier and arrived at the rocky climb to the “false peak” just below the crater, the unexpected (in a good way) happened. The closer we traversed to the top the more colorful the black lava became. The photo below doesn’t do justice to the iridescent colors of the lava rocks littering the peak . . . glittering with blue, orange and gold colors like jewels in the sunlight. I couldn’t resist. I scooped them up by the handful. That mountain with it’s layers of lava flows, glacial formations and different rock types is a geologist’s dream.
So, when my heart finally stopped pounding, I was able to catch my breath. We actually reached the top without incident, except the gas had me scrambling back down to the glacier edge, toot sweet. What we didn’t see? Animals. Not a one. Except for a lone bird at the top—and that’s a story for another time.
For the return, the group was rewarded with a two and a half hour slide down the glacier. No joke. Curving channels like toboggan runs were cut shoulder deep into the glaciers just wide enough to accommodate a person seated on a plastic disk with a handle attached at the waist. I wish I had a photo of one of us descending in those channels. It cut the descent time in half and the laughter made up for all the labor spent on the challenging climb up.
I’m thinking this trip covered all three rules for keeping Muses happy: love, feeding, and letting her fly.
Then why a Valentine’s gift, you may ask? Because I don’t usually put my tail in danger to prove my love for my Muse. This adventure was like a box of bon-bons on steroids, and given my fear of heights (which has lessened now, I must say) I took her higher than she’s ever flown before, at least with both feet still on the earth.
Since we just got home, I’m taking all of today to recover. My Muse is full and happy. Now, I just hope my husband will understand (and laugh out loud) when I hand draw him a Valentine’s Day card and order take-out—delivered. We’re staying in!
If you’d like to see more volcano pictures, please feel free to visit my Facebook album: Climbing Volcan Villarica. (You may have to sign in first for the link to work. Otherwise, visit: www.facebook.com/kathleenpickering.)
Then afterwards, let me know what you are doing today for Valentine’s Day . . . is there any Muse involved?
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, and most importantly, Happy Writing!
Monday, February 13, 2012
I'm currently reading The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, an Australian book that provoked quite a bit of controversy a couple of years ago, not surprisingly, as it centers around someone slapping another person's child at a backyard BBQ. Although I find the issues it raises about Australian culture and parenting interesting, I have nearly thrown the book in the bin (and seriously, I'm not sure I even want to bother reading the rest of the book) because of the repellent nature of the characters.
What makes this strange, for me at least, is that it is the very unpleasantness of these characters that has made the story less rather than more compelling. This is in complete contrast to the previous two books I have read - The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (about shell shocked WW1 soldiers including the poet Wilfred Owen and a character, Billy Prior, who is unsympathetic for most of the book) and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - which has a number of pretty unlikeable characters.
So what makes an unsympathetic character nonetheless compelling? Why is it that in some books, you might dislike, even loathe, a character, but still find the book intriguing - while in others, that same visceral reaction makes you want to hurl the book at the nearest wall and be done with it?
Although I am not the sort of writer who subscribes to the notion that you have to have a sympathetic main character, I do believe that there must be some redeeming feature, flaw or level of humour that ensures a reader isn't alienated by an unlikeable character. In the case of The Slap I've found some characters so distasteful that I simply don't want to spend any more time inside their heads. In the case of the other books (which are as unlike each other as it is possible - one, historical the other total fantasy) the world and the characters that inhabited it were flawed but intriguing. They hadn't crossed the line to become either dull or intolerable.
But how, when you are writing a novel, do you avoid falling into this trap? None of us want to read books about one-dimensional goodies or baddies, but neither do we want to hang-out with boring or repellent three-dimensional characters either.
This got me thinking about how to write 'unpleasant' characters, knowing of course, that there are no rules - only pitfalls to avoid. For me, these include alienating a reader, failing to provide any redeeming feature for a character, or 'telling' the reader to such an extent that the reader does not believes the character to be realistic. For me (and I am in the minority as most reviewers loved The Slap) the characters themselves impeded the story. I didn't want to delve into their minds, not because it was an unpleasant place to be, but because it was unpleasant to the point of being dull. It turned me off what I might otherwise have been interested in reading. I had no sympathy. I had no compelling reason to find out what happened to them.
So how do you think writers should tackle the subject of unpleasant and unsympathetic characters? Who do you think does this successfully and why?
In many ways, tone can be as important as characterization. In Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim, the protagonist is likeable because of the humor brought to his predicament as well as the tone of the book. Perhaps in The Slap I simply didn't like the 'voice' brought to bear for the characters - too strident, too boorish, to misogynistic perhaps. That probably says as much about me as it does about the book...but still how do you feel about reading books about characters you find morally (or otherwise) repugnant?