Before I start I’d like to say a massive thank you to those who have already bought Crossroads Poetry – and especially the two who have left me such lovely reviews on Amazon UK! I haven’t yet reached my target of eighteen books, so if any of you have two quid to spare and feel like reading some creepy poems, please think of me.
Books have always been my best friends. I don’t mean this to slate anyone who has been my actual, physical friend over the years, but people don’t always get it. People aren’t an escape because they have their own issues and problems and insecurities. People take a lot of effort. People let you down or make mistakes. And sometimes, people aren’t there.
Books, on the other hand, are always awesome. Okay, some let me down. And some can trigger my own insecurities. But on the whole they’re always there.
However, more than books, it’s fictional characters who are my friends. I love the characters you read about who just seem to understand, to get it, who click with how you think or feel or experience the world. There are the ones who, by the time you get to the end, you feel like you know. You feel like they’re your friend and you’ve been hanging out for years.
Whenever I talk about Maggie Stiefvater’s Books of Faerie (Lament and Ballad and hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, Requiem), I always make the point that James Morgan is my favourite character because if I had to choose one fictional human to be my best friend, it would be him.
Of course, I tend to pick a ‘best friend’ from most books I read, and I’ve realised I tend to go for the sassy loyal one who is always secretly in love with the protagonist, which is hugely problematic as I know from experience that when your friends are suffering unrequited love of which you’re the object, it sucks. Hurting them is the actual worst feeling. But the sassy loyalty is definitely my type.
So this has included characters like Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments as well, and within my own writing I tend to include an archetype similar to that (in the Death and Fairies series I have a character called Irial who fulfils that role for several people, and in The Quiet Ones it’s … basically everyone. There’s too much sarcasm in that book and everybody is everybody’s best friend unless they’re their enemy) but for now we’re going to talk about James Morgan.
Because James is awesome, and because it might persuade more people to read these books, which deserve to be worldwide bestsellers.
11 Reasons I want James Morgan to be my best friend:
- He’s there for you when faeries want you dead.
Maybe it’s because we first meet James through the eyes of Dee Monaghan, his actual best friend, but we see him as loyal, ready to come when she’s in trouble or upset … when she calls him, miserable, he comes over and gives her a massive hug. He ‘moves’ her birthday because she’s busy on the actual day. He takes her to get unhealthy food when she’s panicky and said. He listens when she freaks out about being able to see faeries. He’s willing to help.
- He’ll actually help with the faery problem, not just stand on the sidelines as a doomed sidekick.
For reference, see that one time he chases a faery out of an ice-cream shop with an iron shovel while wearing a t-shirt that says: “You – off my planet.”
- He plays the bagpipes competitively. In a kilt.
James doesn’t care what you think about him. He plays the bagpipes because he loves them and he’s really freaking good at it. Best in the state, though that might be through nefarious means. (“Second in the state. Soon to be first. I hired a hitman.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.) At least once, he’s played as a duet with an electric guitarist, which makes for some pretty interesting music. His pipe case is covered in stickers with various amusing slogans, and he’s put electrical tape over half the holes on his chanter to make it in tune, making it battered and colourful.
- He identifies most with Ophelia in Hamlet*.
”Because no one told her what the hell was going on, so she killed herself.” Instead of looking at a much-maligned female character as weak, he can see herself in her. Which shows he’s got pretty good empathy skills, and also tells you a lot about his emotional state. Okay, so I don’t agree with his analysis because I think Ophelia was murdered by Gertrude, but I get that he didn’t have access to my theories at the time. (Note if you click that link: the header says “Did Hamlet murder Ophelia?”, but that’s an error and it should say Gertrude.)
- He’s got really great taste in t-shirts.
As well as You – Off My Planet, he sports slogans such as Sarcasm – Just another service I offer and many more besides. His t-shirts are infinitely varied and hilarious.
- When a faery offers to make him the greatest bagpipe player in the world, he turns her down.
Not out of arrogance (okay, partly out of arrogance), but because he’s smart enough to see that that’s really dumb and there’s almost certainly a catch. And their relationship takes the form of him researching ways to exorcise her and her trying to convince him to give her his life force. It’s cute and well-balanced, right? A best friend who can see through offers like that is someone you’re never going to need to rescue because chances are they’ve already climbed out of the window and are now rescuing you.
- He’ll save you from having your heart cut out, even when it’s going to put the girl he loves in danger.
See point two. James isn’t going to hang around being a useless minor character in your life. I want a best friend who will actually help me, and I’m thinking he’s one of those. Not to mention the fact that he understands the value of platonic affection and isn’t going to abandon you when he falls in love with someone else, so you don’t have to worry about losing him.
- He is infinitely sarcastic.
He diffuses tension with humour and sass. It never runs out, even in situations of danger, but it’s not offensive jokes – it’s downright amusing.
- He’s slightly psychic.
Which is, I think, a useful skill to have in a friend. Even if it’s only that they get a super cold feeling when faeries are near or magic is happening, that might save your life. And it could help a lot in other ways too.
- He writes all over his hands and arms.
A compulsion to write on my skin has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I used to get in such trouble at primary school because I wrote an my hands and was constantly being told to go and wash my hands. Nowadays it’s rare to see me without any reminders on my hands or Celtic knotwork inked up my arms. But the first time I ever came across a character who did the same thing was James Morgan, for whom it’s practically a nervous twitch. I felt we shared a deep kinship and understanding.
- His initials are JAM and it took him sixteen years to notice.
And he only noticed because he was considering shaving them into his hair after he had an accident and had to shave his head. Oh, James.
James Morgan is my favourite thing about these books, and it’s the reason I like Ballad more than Lament, because he takes the stage more. Whenever I’m sad, I imagine James being my best friend, and it makes me happy.
I feel like I’m ridiculously nerdy, confessing this, but in truth it’s one of the main reasons I adore these books. For me, characters totally decide how much I love something – while plot’s important, if I hate the character I can’t get past that, and likewise if I love them I may excuse some plot holes or unrealistic twists.
Do you think these are decent reasons to want someone to be your best friend? If you’ve read the Books of Faerie, which character would you choose to be your best friend? If not, let me know any other fictional character that you’d want as a best friend and why.
*On the subject of Hamlet, I reckon I’d want Horatio as my best friend. Although that kind of thing seems to get you killed, so maybe if Hamlet was my best friend I’d be Horatio and therefore survive the whole play? It’s worth taking into consideration.