Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Characters we love to hate

Here is something I received in a private message from someone on Wattpad: "I hate Dankar. I would poison him if I could!"

This made me really pleased, because if people feel this way, it means I've accomplished something big: creating a character readers love to hate. This is just as important, and a lot more difficult, than writing about someone who gives you the warm fuzzies.

Dankar is doubtless one of the most controversial characters in Paths of the Shadow. He is gay, and in order to hide this, he looks for a wife that would basically serve as a painted screen. When his first two wives threaten to let things out into the open, he murders them and looks for someone more tractable. That's how he ends up marrying sweet, innocent Kelena, a provincial girl whose parents have high ambitions for their daughters to marry well.

So yes, Dankar does come off as a really rotten person at first. He's a manipulator and a murderer. He treats his wife as a social commodity. He has absolutely no scruples. However, consider the following:

1. Dankar lives in a gay-intolerant, medieval-styled society. All gays are firmly locked in the closet.

2. He isn't just any person. He is a nobleman and quite well-known - pretty much a celebrity. If the truth about his sexual orientation comes out, his whole clan will be put to shame - and Dankar is loyal to his clan.

3. If you've only read up to the point of Dankar's marrying Kelena, please refrain from passing judgment just yet. Give him another chance. This is a spoiler, but I promise he will redeem himself - at least partially - in subsequent chapters.

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