Sunday, October 14, 2012

Antiheroes: The Bad Boys of Fiction by @mattpizzolato

Matthew Pizzolato,
The Bad Boys of Fiction
by Matthew Pizzolato

Perhaps the biggest draw that both reading and writing fiction has for me is the escapism that it provides. There are a lot of reasons to tell stories, but for the most part, people want characters with whom they can identify.

White Hats
The traditional hero and the villain portray the extremes of storytelling of good versus evil, and there are a lot of stories told using those character types that provide clear examples of how we should or shouldn't live.

Everyone needs heroes for the examples they provide because as human beings we should all strive toward bettering ourselves. However, not all of us can identify with heroes because while they may have flaws, they generally overcome them over the course of a story.

Gray Hats
Yet, there is a character that is somewhere in the middle, the antihero. This character type can portray elements of both heroes and villains, yet it is firmly entrenched in the heroic elements because no matter how bad an antihero is, there is always a line this character will not cross.

An example of this can be seen in the popular television series, Hell on Wheels. The main character, Cullen Bohanon is a classic example of the antihero. In one recent episode, Bohanon joined a gang and resorted to robbing trains. He had no problem with this until one of his cohorts threatened a child during the robbery. Bohanon defended the child and was knocked unconscious by another gang member. That is the line and Bohanon did not cross it.

Wesley Quaid
Wesley Quaid is the antihero that is the protagonist of my most recent release, Outlaw, and he is featured in several of my short stories. He's a lot of fun to write because he doesn't adhere to any particular moral code. He has his own sense of honor and lives by his own rules.

Because Wesley is an antihero, he allows me to explore the gray area of morality in my writing as opposed to the moral absolutes of black and white that I would normally be limited to if I stuck to heroes and villains. He has opened entirely new realms of storytelling for me as a writer, and I hope that he is as much fun to read about as he is for me to write.

Excerpt from Outlaw by Matthew Pizzolato

"I said, I'm faster than you are, Mister."

I took a deep breath, wiped the spilt whiskey from the back of my hand on the front of my shirt and turned to face the snot-nosed kid who'd bumped my elbow.

His hand hung over the butt of his gun and he waggled his fingers. As if that would make his draw faster, or maybe it was suppose to scare me.

"You just gonna stand there with piss running down your leg?" the Kid asked.

The last thing I needed right now was trouble, especially gun trouble. It would blow my cover and put me on the outs with Boyd Carlyle. "All right, Kid."

"All right, what?" His eyes widened and I noticed that he barely breathed.

"You said you're faster than me. Fine. You're faster than me." I started to turn away.


"Go home and shoot up some cans."

Several of the men standing nearby laughed out loud. Blood rushed to the Kid's pale face when I closed the distance between us. He took a step back.

When he wrapped his fingers around the butt of his Colt, I stepped closer, jammed his half-drawn gun back into leather and slugged him square on the chin.

His gun belched flame from the bottom of his holster, and the Kid dropped as if he'd been pole-axed.

I bellied up to the bar. "Bartender, another whiskey."

The place erupted into cheers and laughter. Several men clapped me on the back. I heard scraping sounds and turned to see two men dragging the Kid toward the batwings.

"You should have just killed him. He'll make another try," a heavily whiskered man to my right said.

I shrugged. "Maybe he will." Recalling that tomorrow morning I would be sworn in as Deputy Marshal, I smiled. "Then again, maybe he won't."

The scent of lilac perfume assailed my nostrils as a body tucked in close to mine next to the bar.

"Howdy, Sugah." The voice oozed of Southern refinement.

I glanced at her and stared for a moment at her cleavage. "Well, hello there."

"Buy a lady a drink?"

Her low-cut dark green dress left little to the imagination, and the color enhanced the green of her eyes. Long golden hair hung to her waist.

"I figure it's you who should buy me one."

She raised an eyebrow. "Is that a fact?"

"Yes ma'am." I tossed back a drink and grinned at her. "I could have shot the place up a few minutes ago, gotten blood all over your floor, and made quite a mess."

Her eyes crinkled at the corners while she waved for the bartender. "How'd you know I owned the place?"

"The name of the front is The Southern Magnolia; and then there's that Yankee accent you have."

A saucy smile lit her features. "You're different than most men."

"So I've been told."

"Most men would have killed that boy."

On any other occasion, I would have too. Instead of elaborating, I shrugged. "There was no need to."

She eyed me for a moment and seemed on the verge of speaking again when the bartender arrived with a special bottle and a couple of glasses.

"Sam. This man's drinks are on the house."

"Yes ma'am." Another customer called for him and he scurried away.

She filled both glasses and handed me one.

"Here's how," I said and banged our glasses together.

She tossed back her whiskey like she'd done it a few times.

I downed my shot and replaced the glass on the bar.

She looked me over for a moment. "You know, I kind of like you and-"

"I don't blame you."

Her lips twitched upward slightly. "And I don't even know your name."

"Wesley Quaid. What's yours?"

"Folks call me Dixie."

I laughed. "I should have known."

"Yes. You should have." Crowfeet appeared at the corner of her eyes as she refilled our glasses. "There's a room at the top of the stairs."


She handed me the glass and ran her finger down my chest and over my stomach. "Yep. Something up there I want to show you."

"Is that a fact?"

"Yes sir. Lead the way."

I stepped back and offered her my arm. "Ladies first."

"But of course." She placed her hand in the crook of my elbow and led me toward the stairs.  More than a few envious glares were cast in my direction, but who was I to argue with a beautiful woman?

My thanks to Matthew Pizzolato for stopping by my blog.  I hope his new release, Outlaw is a huge success!  Also, check out his collection of Wesley Quaid short stories: The Wanted Man.

Want to learn more about Matthew or contact him?  Sure you do!  

1 comment:

Catherine Wolffe said...

I love a western. Looks like I'm gonna havta add this un to my TBR pile. Darn.

Thanks for the interview, Matthew. Can't wait to read the Outlaw.