Hard-to-Like Characters

KLIATT had a very happy-making review of Band Geek Love in the most recent issue:

Ellie is obsessive, high-strung, and sometimes rather horrible. She’s touchy and domineering, and cares too much about what people think about her. Somehow, though, her behavior and attitude come off as refreshingly real and honest. Ellie is indecisive and makes mistakes, just like many teenagers. Her strong personality is nicely offset by Conner’s kindness, and their relationship, with all its twists and turns, is interesting to watch unfold. The unusual setting of marching band, a microcosm of high school not often seen in YA novels, helps this stand out.

It’s been interesting to see reactions to Ellie’s character – some readers have, uh, really not liked her very much. Which, as the writer who created her, is kind of disappointing…I’m not gonna lie. My characters feel like pieces of me and the urge to get defensive on their behalf is strong.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not surprised that people have issues with Ellie. I didn’t write her to be that girl who everyone gets along with, who everyone likes, who is all sweetness and light and good manners. That would be a totally different story…one that doesn’t hold as much interest for me.

I think that a lot of readers, like the reviewer above, understand that. My goal was to make Ellie human, and all the humans I know make mistakes. Some of them are even kind of bitchy and unpleasant and occasionally hard to like. And if Ellie comes across as real and honest, despite her occasional horribleness, then I consider her a success.

Plus, most people grow up eventually. It’s not like Ellie is going to be that way forever.

  • Ashley

    I had no issues with Ellie at all. I personally am in a marching band, and its just so expected for section leaders to be controlling this way that I never even noticed that her behavior was strange. The people who have problems with her have obviously never been in a serious marching band. That’s just the way people ARE.