Here at BookPage we're huge fans of Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the brilliant minds behind the hilarious fashion blog Go Fug Yourself. To celebrate the publication of their YA novel, Spoiled, we asked the girls to name their five favorite literary bad girls. Their answers do not disappoint. Got others? Leave your own list in the comments!
Memorable mean girls
guest post by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Nothing is more nerve-wracking during the writing process than wondering if your characters are enough: Is the love interest sufficiently dreamy? Is the heroine relatable? Is the comic relief actually funny? And is the villain, well, villainous? Arguably, the Bad Guy (or Bad Girl) in a book is the most important—you want to believe in the person’s capacity to cause harm, but what's the point if you don't enjoy the ride?
When writing our young adult fiction novel, Spoiled, we created two foils: One actual rotten egg, Shelby Kendall, and then our protagonist Brooke Berlin, whose antagonistic streak is as crucial to her personality as her good qualities. As we worked on these characters, we realized mean is more fun when there’s something beating underneath it all—if not a heart of gold, then at least one that’s gold-plated. In fact, some of our favorite characters are the ones who start off bad, but eventually win you over. Here are a few we love most:
1) Nellie Olesen: The Little House series didn't skimp on the sassy girl characters, but Nellie, with her irritatingly great clothes and annoyingly perfect ringlets, is prairie’s resident Mean Girl. In fact, she's so aggressively awful that she comes back around to being awesome: Nothing cut through the Little House sentimentality as ably as her snobby superiority and sharp tongue.
2) Blair Waldorf: The Blair Waldorf of the Gossip Girl books may be hard to remember, now that Leighton Meester has stepped into her shoes on TV. But while TV Blair has dabbled in feelings of inferiority to Serena and once maybe threw up a pie, her endgame is simply the acquisition of either Chuck Bass and/or social notoriety (why else is she marrying a prince?). In the books, Blair is a more fascinating, more intense, more relatably insecure cocktail of neuroses: raging Daddy Issues, maddening bouts of bulimia, a restless inability to figure herself out, a masterful ability to self-sabotage and deeper, more compelling jealousies. It's easy to love a villainess when you sympathize with her Major Issues.
4) Becky Sharpe: Like many villains, Vanity Fair’s Becky is presumably supposed to be unappealing, due to her dishonesty, con-artist qualities and, in the parlance of her time, looser morals. But Becky's ability to live by her wits, plus the fact that she’s actually fun—especially compared to that snoozy dishrag Amelia—make you want to dive into the book and shake her hand.
4) Bellatrix Lestrange. Okay, so there aren’t many redeeming qualities to a woman with a raging bloodlust for wee Harry Potter who can't seem to keep her avada kedavras to herself. But look at it this way: The poor loon is simply besotted with a noseless, red-eyed ubervillain who loves no one so much as his pet snake. The girl's got problems.
5) Jessica Wakefield: First of all, let us be clear: The Jessica Wakefield to whom we refer is the Classic Jessica Wakefield of the original Sweet Valley High series, not the Jessica Wakefield of the recent Sweet Valley Confidential, who spent far too much time crying. Classic Jessica’s interests included staying out all night with creepy older men with mustaches, blaming other people for crimes she herself committed, gossiping, wearing minidresses and skimpy bikinis, impersonating her twin Elizabeth for personal gain, and sweet-talking “Lizzie” into doing things for her. Where "good twin" Elizabeth is prim and sanctimonious, "bad twin" Jessica is hilariously self-absorbed . . . and the only Wakefield we want to take out for drinks.