My mother gave me a great piece of advice when I was starting out in the world of dating. If a man says he’s not good enough for you, believe him. Of course, that goes absolutely against the other great piece of advice she gave me. Don’t believe what he says, believe what he does.
That first piece of advice is, of course, the age-old motherly warning against the bad boy, which I naturally ignored until I came across a man who put the “star” right in the centre of bad. That was a long time ago, but I still remember the siren song of his charisma.
So, when I began creating the antagonist in my novel Eon, and its sequel, Eona, I had no trouble conjuring up the charming and deadly Lord Ido, a man who wants power at any cost. But it was not only memory that inspired his creation. It was also a long list of devilish charmers in literature and television.
My first literary crush was probably Lord Avon in the Georgian adventure These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. What a man. Cool, witty, all-knowing, and able to flatten a gold snuff box between two fingers. And all of this while wearing satin and lace!
Then came Callan, an English TV series about an assassin for a shadowy government organization. David Callan, played by a very young Edward Woodward, was cold, tortured and a maverick with his own code of ethics. It was a great series but I wasn’t meant to watch it, as I was far too young at the time. However, at the sound of the title music, I would slide out of bed and creep down the hallway, slowly edging open the sliding door that led to the television room. And there I would sit, with my face pressed against the crack in the doorway, and watch one of the best anti-heroes ever. The title sequence, with its single swinging light bulb and ominous music, used to scare the hell out of me. Delicious.
There have been many other dark, tortured mystery men characters that have taken my fancy, not least being the Byronic hero, Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. Call me a sucker for a bi-polar bigamist with a floppy fringe of black hair. My mother probably would have told Jane to run like the wind at the first sign of Mr R’s moody self-flagellation. However, as my character Eona discovers, we gals can delude ourselves about a bad-boy in endless ways, especially if he makes us feel special. And in my novel Eona, Lord Ido not only makes Eona feel special, he holds the way to her finally achieving what she has always wanted. Power. Now that’s very seductive.
Plus, let’s face it, I wrote Lord Ido in the spirit of Avon, Callan, and Mr Rochester—he’s really hot in that cool, tortured very bad-boy kind of way. The question is, will Eona take that second piece of advice and keep an eye on what Lord Ido does, rather than what he says?
Did you ever have a literary crush? I’d love to hear about the deliciously bad, but oh-so-good characters that made an impression.