Sunday, January 5, 2014

OK for Writers to Depict Criminals in a Positive Light in YA?

Good question. 

My short answer is:  it's fiction. Fiction is written to amuse, entertain, and possibly make the reader question things in his or her own life. That's my job as an author…making the reader feel something––rage, happiness, regret, or maybe joy.

I expect there will be some (maybe even a lot) of readers who will get bent out of shape over the depiction of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in my YA novel. After all, Bonnie & Clyde were downright nasty criminals from the 1930’s who were in love. In WANTED:  DEAD OR IN LOVE, they come back to life, and they’re not necessarily typecast as “the bad guys.” No doubt about it, Bonnie and Clyde did a lot of horrific things in their day and were eventually gunned down for it by a posse of tough crime fighters called The Texas Rangers. I’m not making excuses for Bonnie and Clyde––they deserved to have been stopped. 

I think what I tried to show is that most of us––Bonnie and Clyde included––are not solidly “all good” or “all bad.” Many of us make decisions that seem like a good idea at the time that later turn out to be not-so-great. My main character, a teen girl named Monroe, has always lived by the motto, “You Only Live Once,” but when she faces the counterpart to that, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” she starts to reconsider.

If she could do it all over again, she might say, “Yes, you are in charge of your own destiny. Just make sure it’s the destiny you really want.”

Actual footage taken from Bonnie & Clyde’s death scene in 1934.

Aside from telling what I hope is a unique, suspenseful tale, maybe it'll make someone stop and think before making stupid mistakes that can follow them their whole lives. Or maybe not––it's their choice. Take it from me––I've made plenty. :) 

'Til next time,


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