Sometimes, it seems as though every character we write is one of our ‘favorite’ characters. They have to be, don’t they, in order to have the depth and dimension that make for memorable characters and good writing? It’s what we do as writers, we love our characters into existence, even the terrible ones.
Can you really love an awful character, though? Of course you can, especially if you love them on their own merits. A genuinely awful character can be a vital part of any story. Their clever machinations and venomous dialogue can make the main characters shine as they struggle with the obstacles and pitfalls posed by those awful characters we love and love to hate.
Andrew, from the novellas that comprise Drive Into Love, is one of our very favorite awful characters. Devastatingly handsome with too much time, money, and power on his hands, Andrew is nothing but trouble for protagonists Benaiah and Jess.
Andrew was the reason Ben was here. All the right reasons, wrapped up in a really bad idea — dating a guy and then going to work for him. And then breaking up with him. Trying to break up with him.
Likewise, Jay from Pit Road is another scoundrel who’s far too smooth and slick for anyone’s good—especially Sully, who works at the track where Jay drives, and wrecks, one expensive race car after another.
He looked awful young to be that wealthy, but people made their money all kinds of ways. Damn good-looking guy too. Slim hips, broad shoulders, black hair, quirky grin. Sully put that thought aside lickety- split.
Neither of these guys are used to not getting what they want. Andrew’s already had it—he’s just waiting for Ben to smarten up and come back. He’s sure as hell not going to sit around and let some blue-collar grunt get in his way. That Ben might want Jess? Unthinkable.
“Are you sure it’s only your suspension you’re having adjusted?” Andrew gave him an arch look. “Really, Ben, if you want to fuck your mechanic, go ahead. I’m not base enough to think that sex is some kind of holy bond, neither are you.”
One thing Andrew does have going for him is his honesty. He’s not going to let Ben get away with little white lies about what place Jess—and Andrew—have in his life. Andrew isn’t going to stop until someone makes him, one way or another.
Unlike Andrew, who revels in being a thorn in Ben’s side, Jay is pretty delightful. Funny. Smart. Flirtatious. And he’s just as careless about Sully as he is about his cars—so much so that he nearly wrecks what Sully and Denny have going for them.
Whatever keys did fit, Sully wasn’t opening up for him any time soon. The fact that Jay obviously didn’t have a clue that this might be bad for Sully, that he might not just be sulking, made that a certainty. It sucked. He could have used a friend. So could Denny.
Andrew and Jay, awful or not, are relatable, if we’re honest about ourselves. We all know what it’s like to want someone we can’t have. We may behave better than an antagonistic character in a novel, but we still feel the sting of rejection and even the little spark of desire for revenge. That we know how it feels makes it possible to dig up a little empathy for these guys.
Both Andrew and Jay, by accident or design, nearly wreck things for the protagonists. But without them and their wicked, selfish ways, Ben and Jess and Sully and Denny wouldn’t get closer to each other in ways that make them stronger. Because they’re human and dreadful and selfish—and because they make the romance between our heroes so much more satisfying in the end—they definitely deserve the honor of being two of our favorite characters.