I’m very lucky to be opening the blog tour for A.L.Michael’s novel Prosecco & Promises today, and to celebrate I have the lady herself on the blog today talking about writing unlikeable women. So without further ado, I will hand you over to A.L.Michael.
As it is in writing, so it is in life: women have to be likeable. They have to be pretty, and successful and palatable. Bridget Jones was a revelation, because she was outwardly a silly, overweight woman who didn’t ever say or do the right thing. Except she was wonderful, because she was flawed, but vulnerable and kind and loving and a good friend. She just made mistakes sometimes.
Writing characters that people like isn’t that hard – you just imbue them with everything you wish you were. Strong, fit, successful, attractive, funny, kind and every other positive trait under the sun. But you know what the problem with that is? They’re boring.
I know exactly what I’ve done with each of my characters over the years, even the shy ones: I’ve made them capable of always having the perfect comeback. They’re ready with a one liner no matter what’s said, even if they’re just thinking it. Whereas I, mere, awkward mortal, sit around stewing and worrying and stressing over what someone said, until I think of a comeback three days later.
So my characters are my chance to get right with the world, to have the right retort, to be the cleverest, sharpest person in the room.
It’s not always hard to make a secondary character into a main character – it’s often a square peg in a round hole. But in reality, when I was younger, I was always insanely afraid that I was a supporting character in my own life. I wasn’t interesting enough to be the main character. I was definitely the ‘quirky best friend’ archetype.
Which is why I wanted to make those people my main characters. And that’s why in Cocktails and Dreams, Savvy is quiet, and shy, and doesn’t have any dreams. It’s easy to support a dreamer, it’s hard to love someone who has no dreams, no drive, and is a doormat. But I grew to love her through her story, and I think my readers did too.
Mia was a different issue – right from the get-go she was going to be a difficult woman. She was sharp, and smart, but she was too ready with a smart retort, and she hurt people without thinking. She didn’t mind shouting, or being rude, and she didn’t really care what people thought about her. In my head, Mia was a champion. Someone who didn’t care what people thought, when I spend all my time worrying about that? It was an escape, to be in her head. Knowing how she’d react to things, I’d often cringe before I wrote them, knowing she was about to be cruel to someone who didn’t really deserve it, or was going to push people away to keep herself safe.
I walked a thin line. It would be very easy for people to find Mia unlikeable. She’s ballsy, and loud and doesn’t give a crap what you think. But that’s what I love about her. She’s fallible, and brave, and loves people so much that she’ll defend them, and put herself at risk. She’ll do things she hates because they’re asked of her, and the scariest thing she can imagine is letting herself depend on someone else. She’s made herself a fortress, and breaking down those walls is hard work.
I did worry that Mia might not be loved as much as Savvy was, but I think when readers see the situation she’s been put in, her spikiness is explained. And I hope that, much like having a dear friend, you know that when they say the wrong thing, it probably came from a good place.
I think we need more difficult, defiant and almost-unlikeable women in literature. Because they’re women who are doing their own thing. Here’s to being difficult.
Title: Prosecco and Promises
Author Name: A. L. Michael
Previous Books: Cocktails and Dreams
Release Date: 12th February 2018
Book Blurb: Meet Mia: an unforgettable heroine learning the meaning of life and love on a beautiful Italian island. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lindsey Kelk and Lucy Vine.
Mia’s dad has always been her idol. Now, she faces losing him and he is insisting that she leave England to visit her mother’s family on the Italian island of Ischia.
Arriving on the island, Mia is embraced by the warm, crazy relatives she hardly knows. Despite her doubts about the trip, it is in Italy that Mia discovers connections to a part of her life that’s been missing, and during the sun-soaked days and steamy nights Mia falls for handsome local Salvatore. But as the day of her departure draws nearer can she risk having her heart broken twice in one summer?
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Author Bio: A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of 10 novels. Her most recent collection of books, The Martini Club Series, started with Cocktails and Dreams, to be followed by Prosecco and Promises, and Martinis and Memories. She likes to write about difficult women. Well, they say to write what you know. Andi works as a Content Writer, as well as a therapeutic facilitator. She has a bunch of degrees in stuff to do with writing, and wrote her MSc dissertation on the power of creative writing in eating disorder recovery. She truly believes stories can change your life.
If you want to know more about A L Michael, check out the links below.