Today we welcome author Lissa Kasey in the continuing celebration of the Countdown to GRL 2015 in sunny San Diego.
The flawed characters, gotta love ’em, right?
A Spectrum of Flawed Characters
These GRL blog posts are kind of intimidating. I never know what to say that I haven’t already gone over before. So I thought I’d go over one of the biggest topics that run through all of my fiction. Flawed characters, and their crazy issues.
Anyone who’s read my stuff has probably heard of the Dominion series, which I’m currently in the process of extending and rereleasing, and Seiran Rou. Seiran is the kind of guy you either love or hate. He’s got a lot of opinions—mostly formed by experience of things that have happened to him, and not all of them good.
See, Seiran grew up the kid of a public figure. Sure he had money and a good education, but he also had expectations placed on him most of us would shudder to think about. He was the unwanted male child of a female dominant society. And since he was treated as thus, he has a poor opinion of most women. He expects them all to be like his mother: cold, demanding, and have no use for him.
He’s also got commitment issues that stem from his less than loving mother and an abusive ex-boyfriend. All of these things color Sei’s world view. And since the first, second, and fourth book of the series is in his point of view, our perspective is from Sei’s very skewed head.
I’m currently expanding and editing the third book of the series which is from Sei’s best friend Kelly’s point of view. Interesting facts about Kelly: he wasn’t born to a rich and infamous family. He doesn’t have the expectations forced on him that Seiran did, and therefore his glasses are a little more rosy.
These bits of upbringing, perspective, and history are what color our characters to react. Life is really just a series of reactions. The Hidden Gem series, which is written in third person, is still heavily colored with tainted and warped characters. Aki’s spent years in a containment camp being tortured and tested upon. Shane was a soldier and is now a detective for the police department. He’s seen some of the worst the world can throw at humanity. Only together can they find some sense of peace. And while it’s not perfect, it’s more than a lot of us find.
The second book in the series is finished and is about Paris, former whore and politician who was thrown away by his family for being gay—though he readily admits to being bi. His love interest is a man who has a past, but doesn’t let it define him. The idea of that is sort of revolutionary. Not being defined by your past. We all say we want that, but how many of us actually get there?
Just a few weeks ago Model Citizen was released. MC is a story about Oliver, a former model who is trying to deal with life after the death of his brother. He’s seriously depressed and refuses to seek help until someone pushes hard enough. Ollie is probably the most seriously flawed of all the characters I’ve written. And I don’t mean because he’s genderfluid or demisexual. I mean because he really does think the entire world hates him.
Anyone living with depression knows how this feels. Now the truth is that most of the world couldn’t care less if we lived or died, so no, the whole world doesn’t hate him or anyone in particular. But it does make a person react a certain way. Ollie’s views are very narrow. He fears opening himself up to change will rip him apart again. He loves hard but suspects everyone of betrayal. That’s a difficult way to live. It can make a person angry, suspicious and hateful.
I love the flawed characters. Can relate to them more than most stories. I know writing is all about fantasy, an escape from the daily grind, but people who live with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and a host of other mental illnesses find it hard to believe that people like us will ever find love. It’s hard to love someone else or believe someone will love you when you can’t love yourself. So that’s my fantasy. Showing really fucked up people still making it. Still finding love.
This is why I write flawed characters. You don’t have to love them. You just have to understand them. They are strong and beautiful, even if sometimes they are angry or hateful and confused. I’ve written about characters with body perspective disorders, like Dane from Unicorns and Rainbow Poop and Jamie from the Dominion series. Depression: Ollie from Model Citizen, Bas from Unicorns and Rainbow Poop, Kerstrande from the Evolution series. Anxiety: Seiran and Ollie.
Some of these things have become “cool.” It’s cool to have social anxiety. Or so I hear so often when it comes times for conventions and such. However, the truth is, general anxiety is worse because it doesn’t need a crowd to set it off. You’re just always on the verge of a panic attack. Most of the time for no reason.
However, depression still has the worst stigma. No one likes to be around people who are “Debbie Downers”. Everyone loves the smiling happy people in the center of the crowd. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of those folks in the center of the crowd hiding their depression behind fake smiles.
I’ve had a hard couple of months emotionally myself. Not because of events in my life going wrong. Depression and anxiety doesn’t really need a trigger. It’s made it hard for me to write, and I’ve been looking hard for more books about characters with issues. Issues that probably aren’t completely solved by the end of the book, but manageable. Maybe they’ve found someone to love them anyway, no matter how beautifully fucked up they are. That’s what we all hope for, right?
So until it becomes the norm, I will keep writing deeply flawed characters who some people love to hate. I’d love to see more of them in works other than my own. We all know love isn’t all rainbows and sometimes it’s just poop. I’d rather slog through some poop than be blinded by fake rainbows.
Thanks for reading! Stop by at GRL and say hello.
Inheritance (Dominion 1)
Reclamation (Dominion 2)
Hidden Gem (Hidden Gem 1)
Evolution (Evolution 1)
Evolution: Genesis (Evolution 2)
Under the Sam Kadence Name:
On the Right Track (Vocal Growth 1)
Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Vocal Growth 2)
Conviction (Dominion 3) Sept 2015
Cardinal Sins (Hidden Gem 2) November 2015
Ascendance (Dominion 4) December 2015
About the Author: Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, and collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters. She has three cats who enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. She can often be found at Anime Conventions masquerading as random characters when she’s not writing about boy romance.