Chloé Esposito | Why it’s fun to write about ‘bad’ female protagonists

Chloé Esposito reveals why she chose an anti-heroine to be the lead character in her novel Bad: evil identical twin Alvina.

Chloe Esposito on writing 'bad' female protagonists

Writing this badass anti-heroine was a feminist statement: women can be evil too.

There is something very satisfying about letting one’s demons run loose. In a way, I have been living vicariously through this fucked up anti-heroine, my XXX-rated alter ego who is criminally insane. She does things I’d never dream of doing, things that society frowns upon. She answers back. She’s vicious. She’s feral. And if she were ever caught, she’d spend the rest of her life in jail. I would describe my writing process as very much like acting. I acted in lots of plays in my youth and trained as a theatre actor. I sit down at my laptop and get into character. The dialogue pops into my head. Because my novels are in the first person, ‘I do this’ or ‘I do that’, it’s like watching a movie in my head. The camera follows the protagonist and the reader sees what she’s doing. 

Writing this badass anti-heroine was a feminist statement: women can be evil too. They can be criminal masterminds. I was getting very bored of reading about women getting raped and murdered. Every single book I read seemed to feature another young and beautiful corpse or some kind of sexual violence. Why can’t the women be the murderers? I was worried for my daughters (not that I’m condoning Alvie’s behaviour in real life, of course) but it was time to tell a new kind of story. In the age of #MeToo and Time’s Up, it was time for Alvina Knightly.

In my opinion, there aren’t enough strong, complex female characters in novels, TV series or movies. All throughout the literary canon, the boys are the ones having all the fun, driving the cars in the high-speed chase, pulling the trigger on the gun. The girls are their moral, honourable foils. They are the damsels in distress. Women are the fairer sex, beautiful and demure. Alvie smashes those stereotypes and loves every single second.

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