Characters Who Are Jerks by Kimber Vale #contest
First of all, thank you Lila for hosting me today! You, milady, are no jerk.
But I’ve been wondering; is it okay to write a jerky character? How do most readers feel about such a leading man?
Me, I think some amount of jerkiness is requisite to refrain from slipping down the Mary Sue and Gary Stu slope. I also happen to find a bit of assholery attractive, truth be told. You know what they say about bad guys (and what they say about nice guys, for that matter).
Enter Chance, my rock star in “Forever is Now.” He can be a real dick sometimes. He’s a dick to the women he uses to keep up his straight façade. He’s a dick to his ex-boyfriend/rekindled love interest, Alex, on numerous occasions. But do I hate him for it? No. In a way, I like him better for it—he’s more real. We are all a-holes sometimes (some people more than others) and still someone out there loves us, right?
Plus, Chance isn’t pure jerk. There is some sweet under all his sour.
And thank God Alex sees it, because I’d hate myself if things didn’t end up working out for my sexy boys—if I made Chance too much of a jerk to ever get or deserve a happily ever after. He may make mistakes, but eventually he learns from them. That’s what life and relationships are all about, right? Besides, Alex isn’t afraid to call Chance out when he’s at his worst. J
Blurb for Forever is Now:
If you love someone, set him free. If he steals something of yours, hunt him down and make him sorry.
Alex Bremen is over Chance Ralan. Ever since his high school boyfriend ditched him nine years ago, Alex has barely thought of Chance at all. Sure, Alex attended a concert or two when his ex’s band, Armageddon Showdown, was in the area, but that was more curiosity than anything else. Who wouldn’t want to see firsthand how his once clean-cut boyfriend transformed into a pierced and tattooed heavy metal god?
But when Chance has the nerve to record a love song Alex wrote for him years ago, Alex crosses the country to confront him. Revenge becomes a dish best served sizzling hot. The two men lock horns, but find the chemistry between them has only intensified with time, and occasionally love needs to do some growing up before it can be done right.
Excerpt from Forever is Now:
Alex directed them to a spot in front of the decrepit concrete block foundation where Delia’s drums anchored the pseudo-stage. Dave picked up his stand-in guitar and Jimmy’s bass from the jumble of props on the tarp, and handed Jimmy his instrument.
“I take it this is mine?” Chance commented on the black guitar with the white racing stripe down the middle and a decal of their logo on the lower body. He picked at the sticker with a black-painted pointer finger, and Alex slapped his hand. Jimmy snorted.
“It just needs to pass for the real thing. No one will know the difference, unless you pull it apart before we tape.”
“Easy, killer. I won’t destroy your fantastic…” He glanced at the back and then laughed. “Upper Deck guitar. How’d I miss this premium brand? Isn’t that what they call it when someone drops a deuce in the back of a toilet tank?” Chance rapped his knuckles on the body and laughed at the hollow thunk.
“I don’t even want to know where you picked up that information. And no ruining it yet! The destruction comes at the very end.”
“I like the way you think. This hunk o’ shit deserves to be flushed.”
“All right—let’s do this! You over here. You here.” Alex started pointing and pushing, and everyone fell in around Delia. “No mics,” Alex told Chance, as he backed up while looking through his camera lens. “Let’s wrap this before the sun gets any higher. Doesn’t matter if it sounds like shit, just get playing.”
“Oh, it’ll sound like shit, all right,” Chance grumbled, but Delia tapped three beats above her head with her drum sticks, and “Sands” churned to life. It was subdued on the unplugged electric guitars, and slightly out of tune despite Alex’s instructions to Roadie to have the instruments ready. But it didn’t matter. Paired with Chance’s naked voice, something about it was decadent dark magic, and Alex found himself grinning like an entranced fool behind his lens.
Dave broke a string during his guitar solo, but didn’t miss a beat. Jimmy head-banged through his hangover like a gold-medalist, while Delia gave a stick twirling performance that would make a baton-thrower quit the marching band in defeat. And Chance was just Chance, belting out the lyrics, “Shifting and sifting, I’m losing my footing. The sand in my glass is sucking me under,” as if he were putting on a performance for thousands of adoring fans.
Nope. Just one.
Speedy and Roadie were nowhere to be seen, presumably resting back in the bus until their muscles were called upon once again. Jools held a camera parked on a tripod in front of the foursome with a wide-angle lens, while Alex circled with his zoom like a shark testing its prey.
The song ended with a shallow twang of an unplugged guitar, and Alex yelled, “Cut!” He shook his head in admiration. “Perfect, everyone! You nailed it.” He spun back his video to look it over as he spoke, and then had Jools backtrack her footage.
“Just give me one sec to make sure I’ve got what I need, and then you’re dismissed. Unless you want to throw your doppelganger instruments in the ocean personally. If not, my trusty assistant and I can handle it. Oh, and Chance, you’re not done yet.”
“Yeah, I figured,” he said with a snort.
“Ha ha!” Delia teased, as she grasped a broken drumstick between both fists and stabbed the top of her snare through the heart.
“Hey! No instrument mutilation without me filming!” Alex glared at her.
“Ha ha!” Chance mimicked in a falsetto.
“I’m outta here.” She flipped them both off with a cheeky grin and padded barefoot toward the low-tide meeting of waves and sand off in the distance.
“Goin’ back to the bus. Come get me if you need me,” Jimmy said. He turned back and gave Alex a severe look. “Don’t need me, whatever you do.”
Dave shrugged, silently placed his temporary guitar on the sand, and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He tapped the screen as he made the long climb back up the weathered concrete staircase that wound toward the road.
“Where do you want me?” Chance asked with a devil’s grin that made Alex want to give Jools the rest of the day off.
“How’s your balance?” Alex said, with a taunting raised eyebrow. He beckoned Chance to the side of the foundation and pointed a thumb toward the remains of a vast saltwater pool. It continued to be refilled by the highest tides, and the stagnant water was framed by a strip of concrete. A hashtag of eroding walls formed a series of paths, about three -feet wide. To their left, farther down the beach, one long wall led to a rocky outcrop. Above it, a startlingly modern building, appropriately named The Cliff House, rose like a phoenix from the rocks. It had, in fact. Two incarnations before the current restaurant and museum had burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances. Chance’s gaze followed his gesture.
“Isn’t there water on both sides?”
“A rocky drop to the coast on one side. Water on the other. And it isn’t the kind you want to swim in, either. Picture a tidal pool that rarely if ever drains.”
“Nice. Sounds like a set up. I see your bet and I raise you. I can walk that shit backward.” Chance pulled a single-sized bottle of vodka out of his tight jean pocket and took a swig.
“And here I thought you were just happy to see me,” Alex said in a droll voice, eyeing the bottle. Jools giggled behind him and he mentally kicked himself. Chance looked like he wanted to give him the physical version times ten. Alex shrugged off his evil eye and bent to pick up the blue and white cooler the muscle men had pulled from the back of his van two hours ago.
“Refreshments? Nice.” Chance looked ready to kiss and make up until Alex flipped the lid and pulled out an icy foot-long halibut, completely intact from head to tail.
“What the fuck?”
“I told you the water wasn’t going to be Jacuzzi material. Especially after I dump these guys in,” Alex said, as he tossed the semi-thawed fish back into the ice with its dead comrades.
“Jools, I can handle the filming out there. We don’t all have to risk falling in.” Alex heaved the heavy cooler up onto the wall. “Think you can manage the instruments in the waves? Just get them floating, back and forth for a bit, like we talked about.”
“Just give a call up to Speedy and the other guy to help you haul them over. And don’t let them leave anything when we’re done. Ask ’em to load it back in the van right on the tarp. I’ll get rid of the stuff later.”
“You got it!” Jools saluted, and Alex turned back toward Chance and crooked his head at the old pools.
“Lead the way.”
What do you think? Can you like a heavily flawed character? Do you love a bad boy as much as I do? Do nice guys really never get laid? How many licks does it take to get to get to… Okay I’ll stop now.
Find Forever is Now: Shooting Stars Book 1 from Liquid Silver Books:
and from all major e-book retailers after 9/9/13.
Oh! And check out my month-long contest here: http://kimbervale.wordpress.com/the-forever-is-now-name-that-dog-blog-tour/
Help me name the puppy in my next book!
The winning suggestion will be used in Shooting Stars Book 2, and the winner will get a shout-out in my acknowledgements, an e-copy of the book when it comes out, and a $20 Amazon gift card! Woo hoo! www.kimbervale.com
******Aww…who wouldn’t want to name that puppy! Thanks, Kimber! It was a joy having you visit and share your latest release today! 🙂
Thanks so much for having me, Lila! I love your blog–just beautiful! 🙂
You are very welcome and any time, Kimber! Thanks for the compliment on the blog. 😀
An interesting post, Kimber. I like character in my characters when I read. Without flaws including things like selfishness counterpointed by sweetness, or an inner need, then the character would be less likeable and unlikely to hold my attention. Good luck with the book and naming the pup.