Characters You Love to Hate

When “School of Lies” was only a flicker in the back of my mind I knew that characterization was going to be problematic.  I wanted to entertain but I also intended to draw from my real life experiences as a teacher, experiences that would show sides of Special Education that aren’t generally acknowledged, especially in our politically correct society.  To see how this would play out, I whipped up a few scenes and asked people with no background in education what they thought. The readers always zeroed in on certain characters and and expressed the fervent hope that they’d be written to death, sooner rather than later! From the feedback I got, it seemed that many of my characters “deserved” this fate.

I wondered if I should change the tone, but after all, the book’s a murder mystery and there has to be motive! Still, I worried that with characters so awful that they don’t deserve to live, some readers within the field of education might take offense, to put it mildly.   I wanted to make the characters behave with honor,  but they refused! The characters would remind me about my own experiences and laugh when I told them to tone things down.  Now I worry, who’s going to be the one to pay for their deficient behavior?

Well, I wrote fiction and isn’t fiction just “making stuff up?” My novel is full of instances where lies are told to protect, to distract, to justify. In real life, everyone’s been in a situation where a lie might actually be a kindness. In those situations we tell ourselves that these are “white” lies and they’re for a good reason. But often, lies are told purely for self-interest. If you’d like to know how good you are at ferreting out the truth, try my quiz, “Can you spot a Liar?”

Mickey Hoffman is the author of a murder mystery, School of Lies, published by Second Wind.

~ by mickeyhoffman on September 18, 2009.

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