'Charmed Life' contained one of my favourite characters, Gwendolyn Chant, who was selfish, devious and greedy, but so entertaining and fun you couldn't help but love her. I think that book is where my fascination for such likeable-unlikeable characters took root. A few years later, the wonderful Miss Weston, my favourite English teacher, had my class write a story titled 'Antihero', and the fascination blossomed from there.
Black and white hold little interest for me when it comes to protagonists; and we all know the best characterisation — the most true to life — consists of shades of grey. For me, the most interesting of all characters are those whose grey leans towards storm-clouds and the edge of night.
I've tried before, on several occasions, to write protagonists who weren't very likeable, and who were sometimes downright rotten, but who had certain qualities that meant they were engaging nonetheless. With MoulderingBook, I find myself playing with the idea again.
As couple of my earliest notes for the book say:
"This is a story about bad people doing good things, though not necessarily for good reasons."
"The heroes are antiheroes, yet you root for them all the same."
It's a challenge, but one I'm enjoying immensely. I rememeber something Sebastian Faulkes said in a documentary a while back: "It's more important that a hero has vigour than virtue." His example was Thackeray's Becky Sharp. Me? My touchstone for the MC in MoulderingBook is Gwendolyn Chant.
And the delicious, decadent, deadly* family at the heart of my story? Well, I have no excuse for them other than my warped and twisty imagination.
(*apologies for the frivolous alliteration).