Jul 31 2012 10:30am

Author Molly O’Keefe is So Over “Nice”

Can’t Buy Me Love by Molly O’KeefeToday, author Molly O’Keefe visits Heroes and Heartbreakers to share some of what makes Can’t Buy Me Love and Can’t Hurry Love, both out this month, so great: Her characters. They’re not always likeable, but they are memorable. Here are Molly’s choices for some other not-so-likeable fictional characters. Thanks for joining us, Molly!

I’m nice. I am the kind of person who will take your cat to the vet to put it to sleep, because you can’t stop crying (true story, I’ll tell you about it later). In high school I was voted The Friendliest Girl in the senior class (which we all know if just another way of saying nice). Ask my friends to describe me in two words—most of them will say “very nice.”

So, the truth is, I’m kind of sick of nice. Not that I’m ready to start telling the other moms in parent council what I really think of them, or knocking over kids in the park. But I am tired of reading about “nice.” Nice heroines, nice love scenes, nice heroes—I’ve had enough.

I’m moving on to difficult. Challenging. I want to read about people I wouldn’t be friends with initially, but who fascinate me and I empathize with. Women who do tell the parent council where to stick their ’healthy bake sale rules.’ Heroes who walk the grey area between likeable and disreputable. And love scenes that are real. Honest. Raw.

I want to read about people who act selfishly and pay a price, who need redemption as much as they pretend not to want it. Who hide their goodness and their generous hearts. I find that push/pull to be way more interesting than a good girl and a nice guy falling in love. Maybe it’s because I’m older? Someone told me as you get closer to forty you stop caring what people think of you. I still find myself wanting people to like me, so perhaps I’m intrigued by characters who don’t care what people think of them. I don’t know where this new impulse is coming from.

As nice as I am, and as I imagine, all of you are, the experience of reading has always been to show me new worlds. New people. New journeys. And recently, some of my favorite characters have been, well, not so nice:

Sugar Beth, from Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s amazing Ain’t She Sweet. Sugar Beth did some bad, bad things growing up. Spoiled and beautiful she was unstoppable, but when she has to go back to her hometown, a beaten woman and face all the people she hurt—the sparks, and the real gritty emotional journey start. And she’s not all bad, she just hides her heart, damaged as it is.
Or Darcy from Something Blue, I started that book ready to hate her. Loved her by the end.

Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. I just gobbled up these books. I even had my husband pull over on the highway at a coffeeshop so I could use the free wi-fi to download the last book. Five books in this series and I still don’t know if Jericho is good or bad, but he’s delicious, every step of the way. And when he reveals his tender side, his wounded spirit…awesome.

And as for love scenes, they don’t get any more real, honest or raw than the amazing love and not-so-love scenes in Cecilia Grant’s stunning historical debut, A Lady Awakened. Martha pays Theo to get her pregnant, but enjoying the sex isn’t a part of the agreement. Watching these two slowly fall in love through a series of raw sexual encounters was one of the best reading experiences last year.

So, what about you? Do you still like nice? Or what not-so-nice characters have you fallen in love with lately?


Molly O’Keefe is a RITA-Award winning author with 20 Harlequin novels in publication. She’s won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Best Flipside in 2005 and Best Superromance in 2008. Her Crooked Creek series started with Can’t Buy Me Love in June 2012 and Can’t Hurry Love is out July 2012 and the third book Crazy Thing Called Love in January 2013. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

contact her through her website: www.molly-okeefe.com

find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MollyOKeefeBooks?ref=hl

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Fantastic post. I cannot tell you how much I have come to, well, like not-so-likeable characters. They're so much more interesting and their journeys are so much more relatable.

Sugar Beth in Ain't She Sweet is the first example I thought of too, so it was awesome to see her get a mention here. I also think of Caroline and Tyler in the show The Vampire Diaries, as I didn't much care for them in Season 1 and now they are pretty much the only reason I still watch the show.

Will definitely be picking up a copy of Can't Buy Me Love.
2. NicoleHelm
I feel exactly the same way. I think one reason I like tough, unlike able people so much is I envy them at toughness. I'm such a nice little marshmallow, I love reading about someone who isn't or is but hides it under a tough, prickly exterior. Besides, nice can equal boring really quickly. Not being nice is often times more interesting because you wonder why and how the character got to that point.
3. Willa Blair
I like a complicated character. Even the villain in a book needs at least one redeeming characteristic so we can relate to him/her. Just as we like the flip side of that coin - the hero or heroine who has flaws and a past and skeletons in his/her closet. A character who is all nice or all evil is too one-dimensional. And that equals boring.
4. Molly O'Keefe
Redline - I totally missed the boat on the Vampire Diaries and clearly I'm missing out - my writer friends LOVE that show. Will find the DVD's!

Nicole - I think the fact that I am a total marshmellow is why I love them too - imagine not caring what people think of you! I am so stymied by wanting to be liked, it would never occur to me not to care...
Willa - I love it when the villian in one book becomes the hero in the next - such a trick! Love it!
5. PM Kavanaugh
Hi Molly, Nice to re-connect with you via this blog post. (Reminder: You judged my entry, Die Run Hide, in the Toronto Gold, now to be released by Crimson Romance on Sept. 3). I think one of my fave non-nice characters is Eve Dallas in JD Robb's series. Somtimes, her actions and words get under my skin, but in the end, she remains sympathetic because I know her heart is in the right place...and she has a gorgeous, amazing husband who helps me see her through his adoring eyes.
6. Molly O'Keefe
Yes! PM Kavanaugh (Patrice?) I'm so glad that book found a home - so good, everyone!!

I've never read the JK Robb books - I can't believe it myself.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
7. Kiersten
READ the ROBB, woman!

I love not-nice characters! I knew I'd done well when critique partner complained that my heroine was a bitch and she hated her. Result!

Not nice is so much realistic IMO. I have a hard time letting my characters be vulnerable in print b/c I'm such a hard sell IRL. Which is why I love an H/H who go down hard - er - with difficulty - um - who make you work for it - OK this just isn't a sentence that will end well. I'm on vacation, damnit!

Not nice=very, very good. That is all.
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