the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘characters

The other day I got to interview Gillian Philip, author of one of my favorite new novels, Firebrand.   I got talking on twitter with Seth MacGregor (the main character of Firebrand), and managed to convince him to answer a few interview questions too. He claims Gillian doesn’t let him have any fun, but he has got a weakness for twitter, Joss Whedon TV shows, modern conveniences, and finding trouble.

If you’re already a fan of Firebrand, go harass Seth on twitter. If not, learn what all the fuss is about by reading my interview with Gillian Philip, or my reaction to the book.

firebrand UK

Gillian never lets you do anything fun? I find that hard to believe. I also find it hard to believe she could stop you, if you really wanted to do something. I’ve never interviewed someone like you before. be gentle with me. 😉

Hi Andrea! Oh, Gillian’s such a control freak. At least she’d like to be, and she thinks she has a say in anything I do. Ha. Given what she puts me through, I think I deserve a bit of fun. And thank you for interviewing me. She-Who-Would-Like-To-Be-Obeyed has tried to make me promise I won’t flirt, but hey, I have given no oath, and all that.

Unlike many other Sithe, you can actually physically feel the veil, you can pull it and pinch it, hold it between your fingers. What does it feel like? you wouldn’t um, do anything to harm it, would you?

I’m absolutely not supposed to be able to do that, so this is between you and me, okay? I mean, the Sithe don’t burn witches, and they have a healthy respect for them, but… they tend not to be all that fond of them. So anyway, yes, I can feel the veil. It’s kind of… elusive. Sometimes it feels like very, very fine silk; sometimes it’s so fragile it’s more like mist. Or like mist would be if you could touch it, if that makes sense. It isn’t visible.

And no, I wouldn’t harm it even if I could. It’s too valuable as a defense. I am tempted to tweak it a little, just occasionally; like, say, if a gorgeous full-mortal blogger is asking me questions and I want to hold her attention.

But I can’t damage it, or tear it. There’s no-one on earth who can do that, even if the blasted thing is dying all by itself.

Can you tell me more about your water-horse? the first time you met it (her? him?) was one of my favorite scenes in Firebrand.

Ah, thank you! That is one of my favourite memories, I’ve got to say. I think I fell in love with that kelpie before I’d even seen it. It’s pretty hard to master a water-horse; once you get on one you can’t get off, and they’ll only answer to the right bridle and the right mind, so I was kind of proud I didn’t get killed.

My blue roan isn’t exactly Champion the Wonder Horse; if he found a kid in trouble he’d probably eat it instead of going for help. He’s voracious and he’s violent – great in a fight – and he can be fickle. He’s not as obedient as Conal’s horse, and I wouldn’t trust him with puppies or small children. But he’s loyal to the death and I love him.

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We’ve all read them. Some of us like them. Some of us are utterly turned off by them. Some of us find them deliciously alluring, and find that we crave them. Sounds like i’m talking about an anti-hero, but nope, I’m talking about antihero’s black sheep of a redheaded stepchild, the unlikeable character.

And the sixty four thousand dollar question is, how unlikeable does a protagonist have to be for the reader to truly and utterly dislike them, to the point of not giving a shit about the end of the story?

First of all, what makes a character unlikeable? It’s going to be different for every reader,  because we all have our own very personal hangups, everyone is annoyed and/or deeply troubled by different things. Maybe the character never grows beyond a weakness and enjoys their own helplessness. Maybe they hate them self. Maybe they are a sociopath, or apathetic or a manipulative jerk or nihilistic or something more obvious like being cruel to animals. The thing is, if we read enough, we will all eventually run into a character we can’t stand.

Okay, so we’ve met a protagonist we can’t stand. The person  eats live kittens for breakfast and then tasers kindergarteners followed by watching entire seasons of Keeping up with the Kardashians and Jerseylicious on TiVo.  or something equally horrific.

Now what?

Is it possible to enjoy a book that stars an unlikeable character, or is populated by them?

What’s been your experience with characters like that?

Is it sometimes a good thing to be exposed to characters and character traits that we can’t stand?

Since we’re talking about books, do you respond differently to unlikeable characters in movies or on tv?

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spoiler of uselessness: I finished two books in the last 24 hours.  I gotsta write me some reviews and post ‘em.  One of the books involves a severely unlikeable character, someone who I had a hard time giving a rat’s ass about, and thus, a difficult time figuring out how i felt about the book, yet I found the book impossible to put down and zipped through it. The other features supremely delightful characters, and I adored every page of it. When you see the titles of the books, I hope to hell it is obvious which book is which.

Thinking about the books and TV shows and and literary characters that top my list of favorites, I quickly realized an unsettling pattern. I have a major weakness for antiheroes. You know, the folks who do the right thing when they happen to feel like it? Be them tragic, scarred, bitter, jaded, orphaned and left to their own devices, or led by questionable morals, that is what gets my attention and that is what I gravitate towards.You hurt them, they’ll hurt ya back, you hurt someone they care about, they’ll kill you slowly. Broken noses are good, broken hearts and souls are better. I’m talking the likes of Elric of Melnibone, Vlad Taltos, Mal Reynolds, Locke Lamora, Hellboy, Han Solo, Donnie Darko, most Noir protagonists, and just about any character Joe Abercrombie or Neal Stephenson saw fit to put to paper along with just about any character Bruce Willis has ever played.

Yikes, what does that say about me?

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This post on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist got me thinking. Not so much about if I think men or women write better men or women, but which I prefer as main characters:  men or women.

As I was listing some favorite books and authors the other day, it dawned on me, I tend to prefer my protagonists to be dudes. I know, I know, it’s not supposed to matter if the character is a man or a woman, it’s just supposed to matter if they are a well written character, with motive, background, thoughts, etc. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my fair share of characters of the fairer sex, but. . . I’ll take an adventure story starring a Han Solo style character any day and leave the Princess Leia’s to someone else.

Now that I’ve outed myself as the shallowest blogger in the universe (or just a freak), I’ll put the question to you: Which do you prefer, a female protagonist or a male protagonist? 


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.