I am beyond confused on how I managed to write a character that men love–and somewhat get inspired by–but women absolutely hate. It was never my intent to evoke the sort of emotion from my female readership that comes about when it comes to discussing Brian. Women hate, hate, hate him, and those that make it to the end say that they love the writing but the lead character just makes them see red.
For those of you who don’t know, Brian Jackson is the narrating gangster of my polarizing Crime novel “The Factory”. He was written to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing–if I may use that cliche–he’s an average Joe on the surface but deep down he has a mind for making money by any means necessary.
I thought you wrote Sci Fi, what’s with the thug?
When I finished writing and publishing Anstractor to a very warm reception from readers, I decided to scratch an itch that had been bothering me for years. See, I love Organized Crime history. It’s an intriguing topic that has been a tiny obsession of mine for as long as I can remember. My collection of books is littered with biographies and autobiographies from underworld figures, true crime stories, photo books…you name it, I got it. Let’s not even get into the documentaries and movies that I have. Whew, like I said, a tiny obsession.
I have always wanted to create a fictional gangster that wasn’t Italian (or Irish), wasn’t in the age of prohibition, and wasn’t a street kid trying to play at understanding wealth. I wanted to create an average Joe in the modern age who says “enough is enough” and changes gears to more enterprising endeavors. This is why Brian Jackson was born.
Brian starts out with you–the reader–inside of his head and I reveal a great many things through him, as to how the mind of a young man works. It’s crude, it’s real, and it’s (as one woman described it to me) “a filthy piece of filth”. Brian is in his younger twenties and he likes women–a lot–so I started things off in his head for two reasons:
A: I needed all prudes who would be offended by the book’s language to be well aware before page 3 that they will not want any part of it.
B: The story centers around a strip club and the various illegal activity that goes on there. If people were to think of Brian as anything less than a horn dog, the rest of the tale would not work.
Here’s a sample:
We called it the factory, but it was a half-assed piece of a company that some douche bag’s daddy handed to him when he was old enough to have his balls drop.
In writing Brian, I somehow missed out on the sort of endearing quality that makes a Michael Corleone likable. I think, perhaps (unlike Mike), Brian was never really written as a “nice guy” to begin with. Does he have to be?
An Unpopular Gangster With the Ladies
The feedback that I have gotten from the men and women that read The Factory has been divided. Well that’s putting it lightly, it’s been split into a wide chasm. Men look at the book as a gangster’s story of getting over on the system while women have described it as misogynist (most Mafia stories are, but who’s counting), or a reminder of the sort of guy that no woman should date. This is interesting being that I never intended to write Brian as an asshole. In my mind he is no different than any of the Organized Crime figures that I have studied – but I wonder if that’s the issue.Would women like a realistic story about Salvatore “Lucky Luciano” Lucania, or Alphonse “Big Al” Capone?
I wonder… Did I make Brian too realistic? It’s definitely a question that I would love to learn from. Is there room in fiction for an asshole lead, or should we always add an angle of tenderness that will make the bad guy likable (like Michael being so against his family but all about his girlfriend at the beginning of The Godfather)? In time I hope to learn, but if you’ve read The Factory, just know that my intent was not to offend.
Brian Jackson will be back in The Factory’s sequel “The Gun Moll”, by the end of 2015. Thanks for reading.