Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Bad Boy or Anti-Hero?

There’s just something we ladies can’t resist about bad boys. Think of Han Solo and his irresistible smirk when he tells Princess Lea, “I’m just in it for the money, Lady.” [quoted as well as I remember] You want to be angry with him for being so self-serving, but it’s hard to be when he’s so charming and when you know he’ll end up doing what’s right, despite himself.

Han is the perfect symbol of an anti-hero, a term I hadn’t heard until recently on a writing list. What’s the difference between a bad boy and an anti-hero? Easy enough: an anti-hero is the star of the show. Minor characters can be bad boys, but when the main male character is more cowardly than strong, more greedy than giving, and selfish or self-centered instead of … well, instead of being heroic and gentlemanly, he’s an anti-hero. Heroes can also be bad boys in some ways but still follow most of the heroic characteristics of strength, compassion, kindness, self-sacrifice, and being in control of themselves and their surroundings.

I have an anti-hero. In all fairness, I have more than one. Alan in “Finishing Touches” has some anti-hero qualities since he hits on Jenna while he’s married. Evan in “Rehearsal” stands back and refuses to tell Susie how he feels instead of fighting for her. Even Duncan from “Rehearsal”, who my female readers tend to spar over, has self-esteem issues, which is said to be an anti-hero quality. I’m not so sure about that one, as most heroes I read have at least a touch of that and it makes them more human and lovable.

My next main male character, coming in November, is a true anti-hero, though. Here’s the blurb (in progress, changes may occur):

"Riveting" Ryan Reynauld has immersed himself in a world of
music, parties, and acquaintances who ask nothing of him.
Having risen to the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern
is objecting to the way his music is produced, until he finds a young woman standing on a window ledge. Against the advice of everyone
he trusts, and through media attacks and fan threats, Ryan
determines to care for her himself, making a promise that
threatens to destroy his career.

Convincing the skittish girl she can learn to trust again comes
with a steep price. Sometimes the path to recovery comes
from first allowing your world to implode.

Ryan likes to joke with those around him about his self-importance and arrogance. He knows he is and shows no remorse for being so. He calls his attitude “what got him this far” in the face of loss and bullying during his childhood. He’s also not your typical hunk; he scorns himself for being rather short and not well-built. He depends on his security team and especially his security chief/friend to pull him out of the scrapes he likes to get himself into. And he has a well-known reputation with female fans.

Still, he has redeeming qualities. He’s good at his job. He’s hard-working, writes beautiful lyrics, and he’s loyal to his musicians. His niece and nephew adore him. And when Kaitlyn comes to the end of what she can handle, he steps in to be her hero, at his own cost.

Comparisons have been made between anti-heroes and villains as possibly the same thing except villains are subordinate characters. In romances, with the necessary HEA, an anti-hero must also be redeemable, while villains often aren’t.

What do you think? Do you have any favorite anti-heroes from literature or film? Is there much difference between a hero with bad boy qualities and anti-heroes? I have to say I’m intrigued as to what readers will think of Ryan, my first full-out anti-hero, also the only POV character of the novel.

As I haven’t officially started promo on this book yet, this is a first showing of the cover. Yes, you’re seeing it here first!

Off The Moon
LK Hunsaker

coming November 2009
from Elucidate Publishing

Literary Romance
Trade Paperback & Ebook



Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--I understood the difference between bad boy and anti-hero. In many ways, the anti-hero is best. The bad boy? James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.The anti-hero--Rhett Butler.Which one would really stand up for his woman, save her, help out? Which one would continue to wallow in his own self-pity and weakness? Celia

Chelle Cordero said...

I adore the cover - it is beautiful.

My favorite has always been a naughty boy that needs some taming but manages to come through when it counts.

Wonderful blog.

Cheryl said...

Hi Loraine!

I LOVE ANTI-HEROES, and I think I tend to write them more than any other kind of protagonist. My favorite anti-hero? Rhett Butler!!! I ADORE HIM!!! LOL Is there anything more touching than when he deserts Scarlett and goes off to join the Confederacy? Such a fantastic 11th hour twist for him. I really like Ryan. He is vulnerable, and I like that in a hero. GREAT COVER, TOO!!!!

Cheryl said...

Oh, I thought of another good anti hero-- how about Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca? That's heartwrenching, too! "Play it again, Sam..."

Savanna Kougar said...

L.K., congrats on your latest. Looks like a winner!

Wow, this hero thing is deep. I always thought of an anti-hero as being a true rebel or renegade for all the right reasons. At least, in the end, like Han Solo.
He would stand by Princess Leah forever.
Personally, I can't go with Rhett actually leaving Scarlett. He'd come to his senses after a night out with a whiskey bottle. But that's just me.
James Dean in 'Rebel'... sexy as all heck... but, the character isn't a real man, imho. That would end it for me and my heroines.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Beautiful cover for your latest, LK! Thank you so much for sharing it here!

The anti-hero is a very compelling character. Many romantic suspense novels feature heroes that may or may not be bad: mixes of dark and light.

For me the ultimate anti hero has to be Lord Byron, the limping poet: "Mad, bad and dangerous to know." And in opera, the baddie Scarpia - I wrote my first published novle, 'Voices in the Dark' as a result of being inspired by him!

Super post!

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, Rhett is a great example of an anti-hero! I haven't seen Rebel Without A Cause. Unbelievable, isnt' it? I'll have to rent it.

Chelle, the to-be-tamed bad boys are a lot of fun. I like them and I like the tame boys who need to learn to create sparks better. ;-)

Cheryl, Scarlett is actually listed as an anti-hero, which I can see. When Rhett does go off and join, her reaction makes me want to smack her because it's so self-serving. I'm glad you like Ryan so far. At times, he needs to be smacked, too, but he learns. Bogart, yes, another one.

Savanna, when I was researching for this blog, there was some dispute as to what an anti-hero is, but most concur that they don't tend to have the right reasons in mind. They're self-serving, at least until they're redeemed. Bad boys, on the other hand, might have the right reasons in mind but go about it in "wrong" ways. At least that's what I got out of it. Motivation seems to be the big difference.

Lindsay, Lord Byron - the unredeemed anti-hero! Well, I guess he was right at the end maybe, not that it was soon enough to do anyone any good. Interesting that your first novel was inspired by an anti-hero. The mixture of good and bad keeps the characterization opportunities wide open. I wouldn't call Ryan "bad" but he certainly has his moments.

Thank you for all of the comments on the cover! The moon photo is courtesy Ines of inescreations.com who some of you may be acquainted with. Her photography is incredible!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

LK, great post as always, and you make me think - as always! I find myself wondering with an anti-hero, what is it he's trying to hide? It's like a guy who won't show his vulnerability, his feminine side, anything that might be thought of as 'weak' - what's going on underneath all that front? That's often what keeps me interested and curious.
Your new cover is STUNNING!

Jane x

Savanna Kougar said...

LK, interesting. I guess I'll have to revise my idea of what an anti-hero is. Then, I'll have to come up with a new term for what I thought anti-heroes were.
I just can't see them only in the BAD BOY camp.

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, thank you. Yes, I love knowing there's more down deep left to be discovered, also. The hidden heroes are so appealing to those of us who like to play healer in some way. I'm so glad you like the cover. :-)

Savanna, maybe that category hasn't quite been named yet? I have one like that, too. He's rebellious and often looks to be on the wrong side of things, but he always means well. I can't call him "bad" and he's not an anti-hero, so I'm not sure what he is. A wounded hero, maybe?

Mona Risk said...

Gorgeous cover. Your definition of anti-hero is more like what I would call alpha hero. Rhett Butler being the perfect example, right? Although my alpha heroes are somewhat more heroic than delicious Rhett.

Great discussion.

LK Hunsaker said...

Mona, thank you. Yes I see the similarity in alpha heroes and anti-heroes. Still, a strong, in-charge, aggressive alpha can have pure unselfish motives, even if he shows it differently. So he wouldn't quite be an anti. I think it's mainly in the interior motive that makes the separation.