On Writing Unlikeable Characters
crimereads.com – Thursday June 23, 2022
When I set out to write my young adult novel Never Coming Home, my number one goal was to create a killer mystery. My number two was to write a cast of characters that the reader just couldn’t wait to see die. Never Coming Home is a contemporary, social media-based retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the story of 10 strangers who are all invited to a mysterious island under sketchy circumstances. Once they arrive, it isn’t too long before they’re hit with the big M: murder.
While Queen Christie’s masterful storytelling and deft deployment of the red herring definitely drew me to the idea of reimagining this story, what really hooked me was that many of the characters in it were deliciously awful. Take beautiful, dumb Anthony Marston, whose selfishness is so pure that it’s almost to be admired. Almost. Or Emily Brent, a pious, self-righteous spinster who regularly indulges in the deadliest sin (pride, that is). Philip Lombard is the closest the book has to a hero, and he’s as morally gray as they come (though any quick scroll through #booktok will inform you that a morally gray hero is actually what the boys and girls want these days).
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