“It’s almost like being good is the perfect alibi for being bad.” – Riley Stone, Such a Good Girl
First of all, I want to say this: I am so incredibly lucky to be able to write a character like Riley. A smart, complicated character who is able to make complicated decisions and have a complicated agenda.
A few years ago, characters had to be inherently likeable. It was a word writers heard everywhere, and some even hear it today. It was pretty tough to write a character that wasn’t likeable—in fact, I remember getting a lot of rejections that said just that. “I’m sorry, this character just isn’t likeable enough. We can’t see this selling.”
Of course, there’s another layer to all of this. People only said this about one type of character: female ones, specifically. Our girls in literature were held to an impossibly high standard, much like women in real life. Not only were we supposed to kick ass, we were supposed to smile while we did it and you were supposed to invite us to high tea afterward.
Meanwhile, male main characters could be stoic as hell and do all sorts of badass stuff. They could drop kick someone in the face and steal something and behave rudely and we were supposed to be like, “well, he probably had a rough day, you guys.”
Definite double standard.
Where were the female characters who could drop kick a guy in the face and have a bad afternoon and maybe not always be smiling and happy? Or maybe, just maybe, a character—especially a main character—won’t always be inherently good? Maybe decisions aren’t to be made with the best of intentions. Maybe they’re just to be made with intentions.
So shout out to the unlikeable heroines (or dare I say anti-heroines) who paved the way for Riley Stone to be here—the Katniss Everdeens, the Sansa Starks, the Amy Dunnes, the Parker Fadleys of literature.
While you won’t see Riley drop kicking anyone (although she no doubt could), she is absolutely not your likeable female heroine of yesteryear. She goes out of her way to appear absolutely perfect on the outside, and on the inside—well. She knows how to get what she wants.
And I had a fantastic time writing her.
I hope you have just as much fun reading her.
P.S. Such a Good Girl is available as an extended excerpt until July 3rd!