I saw an article earlier about what your first literary crush says about you. I glanced over the list, but none of the characters on it came anywhere near what I’d think of as my literary crushes. Then I took a moment to consider this idea and realised that I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a crush on a fictional character.
I’m not sure whether this is because of the sort of reader I am — I’d rather be the character than date them — or whether it’s because I’m asexual. I think it’s more likely the former, as I definitely had crushes on real people when I was like twelve, so you’d think that could’ve translated into fiction too. But then I got thinking about it. Maybe I just didn’t recognise my admiration as a crush. How do you even define that, anyway?
I mean, my total lack of interest in romantic relationships and whatnot probably means I’m not very qualified to answer that question. I have no idea what would make me have a crush on a fictional character because in the past all the crushes I’ve had have been totally illogical and, for the most part, pretty bizarre to look back on. What did I see in that guy from my orchestra when I was eleven, or the actor in the year above me at school when I was in year seven?
I’ve definitely had characters I’ve wanted to be friends with. I’d love a friend like James Morgan from Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, and I always wanted to have a conversation with Bartimaeus from Jonathan Stroud’s books. (I … may also have had an imaginary friend called Ptolemy for a while, too.)
Yet my biggest admiration has always been for the characters I wanted to be. I wanted to be Kestrel from The Wind Singer because she was brave and defiant and she hated exams. I wanted to be Arwen from The Lord of the Rings until I realised she didn’t get to do much in the books and then I wanted to be Aragorn. (Hey, I was nine. Children are fickle.)
Plus, a lot of the characters I like best are the ones you would not want to date. They tend to live the kinds of lives that get everyone around them killed, and I don’t think a few hilarious comebacks are worth that.
But among bookworms, that makes me weird. I’ve discovered this. The more blogs I read, the more book tags I participate in, the more I discover that fictional crushes are a thing. Oh, I get unreasonably attached to characters, that happens. “My child,” I’ll say, “my terribly messed-up slutty assassin child.” (This may or may not be an actual quote.)
In order to rectify this weirdness of mine, I decided to compile a list of fictional characters I’d go on a date with. You know, a one-off blind-date kind of thing, that you then tell all your friends about and never follow up on. Or maybe you exchange numbers and use them to discuss Hamlet at 3am. That sort of thing. Not a long-term relationship or anything, but an evening out.
(1) Locke Lamora, from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series.
Locke seems like a pretty interesting guy. He’s a thief. He’s also incredibly educated, quick-witted, good at acting, loyal to his friends, and generally a fascinating person. His wit is razor-sharp and he has some of the most colourful language that I’ve ever heard, which makes disasters a lot more entertaining. Plus he’s learned not to leave cats behind. I’m big on guys who remember to bring a cat.
(2) Lucy Carlyle, from Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series.
Lucy hunts ghosts, but she can also communicate with them. Even though they’re not very friendly most of the time, I imagine she’d have a lot of fun stories to tell. She’s also brave and keeps her head in a crisis — and she understands the importance of a good cup of tea. No doubt the date would be interrupted by a ghostly emergency, though.
(3) Lirael, from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series.
Sure, Sabriel’s badass, Clariel’s a fellow ace who might be fun to chat to, and there are a whole host of supporting characters who could be interesting, but Lirael’s more my kind of person. We could exchange library reminiscences, compare cataloguing systems. It would be great.
(4) Flex, from Philip Reeve’s Railhead.
I had a few issues choosing a Reeve character. Who would I go with — Hester Shaw from Mortal Engines, maybe? (I always loved her when I was a kid.) But his most recent book had a character who caught my attention: Flex. I might refer to them as my ‘genderfluid robot child’ but hey, on this semi-platonic date I’m sure we could alter that to ‘genderfluid robot bro’ or something.
(5) Valkyrie Cain, from Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series.
I mean. Come on. Val’s badass, she can do magic, she’s funny, and she’s Irish. What more could I want? While hanging out with her seems to involve way too much fighting for your life and the future of the world, I’m sure she could take an evening off to hang out with me. Maybe she could teach me that reflection trick. I’d love to have two of me sometimes.
Sure, I could probably come up with more than five characters. These are all from books I read or reread pretty recently; it’d be unfair to miss out characters like Holly Short (Artemis Fowl) or Meggie Folchart (Inkheart), not to mention Lucy Pevensie (Narnia) and Pippin Took (Lord of the Rings). But it’s 1am here, and I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, so I have to head for bed.
I’ll leave you with a question: what five characters would you go on a blind date with, whether or not you had a ‘crush’ on them? You can leave me a response in the comments or treat this like a book tag and write a post of your own; I’d love to see some of your responses.
And if you’ve any thoughts on the nature of fictional crushes, I’d love to hear those too.