On a panel once, the question was raised as to why badass characters like Conan, Kane or my own Gorias La Gaul in OVERKILL & THRALL need to exist. While flattered to be in the same sentence as those creations, I will try to answer that simply. It’s not a very complex theory.
They’re fun. They do all of the naughty things we can’t. They fight, fornicate and steal. While sort of society outcasts, they aren’t geeks. If not invited to the party, this kind of character busts in the door, drinks the beer and kills the host. They’re unbridled and if one has ever been astride a horse sans bridle, the understanding is there. Though motivated by cash, sex or power, the vagabond badass trudges through the world leaving a trail of blood, screaming women, broken weapons and quivering body parts. A heart taker and a heart breaker, the violent rogue is far more interesting to read about that a morally tight assed individual. True, there’s nothing wrong with being a good guy to the core, the world needs more of them, but reading about Joe Purebred is about as fun as picking out socks.
However, I think many of us have to play the part of the good guy. We go to work and don’t punch the loud dude at the coffee machine in the mouth. We don’t tell the chatty pregnant gal they know what causes that now. We hold back, we fit in, trudge on, behaving. That is the true meaning behind my writing such characters, escapism. Gorias allows me to escape my every day world and plunge into another, to the hilt. I’ll take a reader along for the ride, to the barroom, the bedroom, the palace hall and the battlefield. You’re going to get dirty in a few ways.
But it’ll be fun. In the end, there won’t be bail to pay or prison time to serve. Rest easy with the dreams of darkness weaved from a crazy imagination, told from the mind of one willing to get their hands very dirty.
Flawed characters also remind us that it’s a good thing such folks exist. At times, the rough guys & gals are needed. Other days one can read about them and say, “Damn, glad I’m not that messed up that this is the only way I’d ever have to make my way in life.”
Please don’t think it’s all a rough and ready, tits & ass world these folks walk in. Usually, a flawed character gets that way because of his upbringing, his hard life and because of a trail of busted hearts that together couldn’t fill up his chest enough to make a grin break.
What’s the cliché? Men wanna be him, women wanna tame him. I think when faced with such characters, men might wanna be him for a little bit, but are glad to draw back into their mundane lives. Women would love to try and tame him, but in their heart of hearts, they know for all the pleasure, pain will come. To be glib, as DOCTOR WHO’s Sarah Jane Smith said, “Some things are worth getting your heart broke for.”
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When a series of bizarre murders take place in reconstruction era Memphis, former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest is summoned to help solve matters. The occupying Union forces Commandant, General Michaels, sees members of his family killed in a fashion unique to a killer in Forrest’s cavalry brand, one William Hells. Nathan assures him Billy died in the war.