The Novel Approach welcomes author Zane Riley today on the Go Your Own Way blog tour. For Zane’s visit, I asked him to chat with us about “Bad Boys”. Just what is it that makes them so irresistible? Enjoy his answer and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card at Interlude Press.
Bad boys: You can’t live with them, you can… probably can live without them.
A lot of people do. They live inside the lines and in their boxes and houses without ever second guessing themselves. For some people, that life is enough. They follow every guideline and rule placed before them and never have a want or need to question it. And for others, they do nothing else. Bad boys can come to life in a single instance of rebellion—throwing their food at someone, dumping the finger paints on the floor, or dropping a cherry bomb in a mailbox. Sometimes they’re forced into a world where they have to fend for themselves at a young age. Others just think the jacket and attitude make them look cool.
A bad boy represents the one thing we’re always encouraged not to do: Break the rules. They challenge what’s set before them. That’s an appealing idea in many cultures for reasons different to the individual. But every culture comes with a set of instructions, not on a piece of paper, but through actions and words of encouragement from the people around you. Bad boys take those instructions and stomp them into the dirt.
They’re a life away from the moral obligations you’re raised to adhere to throughout your childhood. In a modern western culture, that bad boy takes a fairly distinct shape: dark, brooding, handsome, a rebel without a cause with a leather jacket and a smirk. James Dean is a popular icon for the role. Han Solo is another and my personal favorite.
It’s sexy to be bad, to live both outside the law and for yourself. But there’s a balance that needs to happen as well. Every bad boy needs a redeeming quality—one little characteristic (that evolves into several) that makes people like them. They need a kind heart. It might be buried and chipped, even cracked like a window that’s been shot up, but their heart, ultimately, must be kind. They can be crass and crude and misguided, but they can’t be cruel. Otherwise, their counterpart, the “good” character will want very little to do with them. A balance needs to be maintained between them to accompany a slow revealing of the bad boy’s kindness that builds with their relationship.
One of the greatest parts of writing such a relationship is the little moments where all the sparks between them erupt into a little plume of flame, a true flame and not the bursts of fire that come with heated attraction. It should be something real and lasting, a moment that alters a life forever. They can spend so much time despising one another and never take a moment to stop and know each other, that when it happens, it’s stunning. It knocks the breath right out of you when you see two such characters realize what’s so obvious from your vantage point. Every person is more than what you see or hear. It’s in what they say and don’t, how they breathe and sleep, whether or not they wipe their mouth on a napkin or their sleeves. That’s the greatest moment in these stories, as a writer, when you take characters that appear so opposite on the outside, and bring them together under the surface. It’s almost as if they’re meeting for the first time all over again. In a way they are. Every second spend learning something new about another is like starting all over again.
Blurb: Will Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.
Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable. But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.
Zane is a transgender writer and recent recipient of a degree in English: Creative Writing from the University of Mary Washington. Go Your Own Way is his first novel.
In his spare time, Zane is a musician and frustrated fan of the Baltimore Orioles.