From Michelle: You're going to remember the day you first learned about Jessa Slade's "Seduced by Shadows," if for nothing more than to be able to brag that you "read Jessa when." Her writing style is marvelously fresh and bright, yet so accessible you'll be hard pressed to decide which you're more enamored of: her storytelling or her captivating heroes and heroines. Her debut, "Seduced by Shadows," drops tomorrow. Please offer Jessa your warmest "It's so good when they're bad" Bella buongiorno...
From Jessa: Hello, Bellas! I’m so excited to be here with you – you who have suggested quite a few of the yummy heroes on my bookshelves – and share one of my favorite topics: The dark hero.
Do you ever find yourself more drawn to a story’s villain than its hero?
Er, maybe I’m revealing more about myself than is socially appropriate, but the dark side intrigues me. Not evil, mind you, although darkness is sometimes misinterpreted as evil, but the shadow side and all its constituent parts: The unconscious, the anima, the id, the reptilian brain, instinct and impulse, raw emotion. I think my interest started when I learned back in my school days that the feminine half of human duality – from mythology to psychology – is usually relegated to the shadow side.
How unfair, I fumed at the time. Why is the feminine assigned such backhanded virtues as dark, cold, hidden, void? The word choices often drift toward the words we’ve always used to describe evil. I won’t delve into an academic rehashing of the patriarchal fear of the female. I’m more interested in how the dark side plays out in romance novels.
A few shadows give a character depth and three dimensions, which is, I think, one reason why villains with their lush shadows are sometimes more memorable – Norman Bates, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter. But how to give shadows to a hero... That’s where the quest for redemption comes in. A character unrepentant in his evil doings is a villain, but if he strives to rise above his darkness and find at least a smidgen of light, ah, now we have the makings of a hero. In a black & white photography class I took, the instructor explained how we needed a point of true white and a point of pure black to fully explore the range of gray.
And there’s so much range in a dark hero. The bad boy, the arrogant alpha, the defective detective, the rebel without a cause – all alluring archetypes of the dark hero who rules the shadow side. I suspect my endless fascination with the dark hero stems in part from the way many of the words used for him – dark, cold, animalistic, raw – echo the words used for the feminine mystique.
Maybe the dark hero is really the minimized feminine amped to the nth degree and flexing its muscles. What would those bad boys think about that?
So who is your best beloved dark hero? What was it about his shadows that made you love him more?
P.S. I found the gift cards at a local art show and they spoke to me. The earrings are freshwater pearls with a wonderfully eerie, sinuous texture to them. Demonically possessed pearls! Who wouldn’t want a pair?
Click on the collage, above left, to tour Jessa's "Seduced by Shadows" Visual Inspiration interactive collage.
*Tagline to Jessa's Marked Souls series: "In a world where evil has broken free from the shadows, only a hero cut from a darker shade of wicked stands a chance"***
Thursday: RBTB contributing editor Becke Davis brings you a
pre-Bouchercon World Mystery Conference feature review!