"The women who inspired this play deserved to be smacked across the head with a meat ax, and that, I flatter myself, is exactly what I smacked them with."
*** Clare Boothe Luce on "The Women."
You know when you listen to the sharp, catty dialogue of the women undermining each other in The Women that Luce had a good ear for women at their worst. Have any real, live a**holes in your lives inspired your fictional bad guys?
Funny you should ask. There is a real life a**hole who lives too close to me to identify beyond that, but I was so pissed at him - for unneighborly behaviour - that I made him a wife beater in my book. As it happens I had too many interwoven story lines and decided to pull that one out, but one false move and the guy makes it into book three.
I'm sitting at my computer, staring at the screen. Wondering who inspired my bad guys, and why. And I realized it's not so much specific people, as it is the way some people treat others. My bad guys are self-centered, greedy, manipulative. They're only interested in themselves--and how others can help them get what they want. And if someone gets in the way or interferes, they mow them down. Physically, psychologically and emotionally. Their flaws stem from power, money, and control.
The good guys--listen, think, care about others as much as they do themselves. Their flaws stem from love.As for you, Ro, my darling husband is a lawyer, if you need him.
Free associating on the lawyer front...it is interesting how mystery readers are far more partial to dead lawyers than they are to dead dogs. I know, off topic. I LOVE that quote, but I confess I hate asshole characters. The 'villain' in my work in progress is based loosely on a girl I barely knew in high school. She was very sweet and needy and clingy (and annoying) and I imagined what might have happened to her if she got twisted, seriously twisted. I like villains who are real, complex people who've convinced themselves that they HAVE to do bad things for all the 'right' reasons. As Hanks says, they're 'flawed.'
I hung around with a guy in college who I knew was evil. Okay, no one believes in evil today, so maybe he wasn't evil, just a sociopath. But it was like the air changed in the room whenever he walked in. When asked about his plans after graduation, he announced that he was going to go to Las Vegas and make his "killing" gambling. He never went to Las Vegas, but in the back room in a bar in Boston, he won a couple grand in a backgammon game.
In lieu of the cash, he was offered the chance to make money driving car loads of marijuana up from Florida. He soon graduated from driver to investor, and after a stint in jail wound up distributing a synthetic heroin that killed something like 200 junkies up and down the east coast. The Herald did a story on it and quoted one of his associates as saying that Chris chuckled over this.
When I read the quote, I could actually hear the laugh Chris would have used. To make a long story short, Chris died, execution style, with two bullets in the back of his head, shortly after deciding to turn state's evidence. None of his college friends were shocked.
Anyway, I'm clearly fascinated by Chris. He was the inspiration for one of my earliest short stories, and the basis for my bad guy in Final Copy. Over and over, even when I was doing investigative journalism, I found myself drawn to the subject of charismatic con men (and women). Why is that the trait of utter selfishness is so often coupled with extraordinary charm?
Maybe it's that mystery that keeps us writing crime fiction!
We're so thrilled to announce Jungle Red's own Hank Phillippi Ryan's debut novel Prime Time is now on the Boston Globe's bestseller list! Prime Time has been on sale for just twelve days..and now is the number 10 best-selling paper back as listed in New England's flagship newspaper.
(The second book in Hank's Charlotte McNally Mysteries, FACE TIME, will be published this October.)