Five Fictional Character Crushes
By Cassandra Clare
1) Richard and Alec, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
Swordspoint is one of those books you never forget. At least, I never have forgotten it, even from the first paragraph, which describes a drop of blood on snow. To me, it's a perfect book. A perfect setting, perfect plot, perfect humor, perfect romance, perfect pain. It's probably bad to crush on both Richard and Alec because not only are they two separate people, they're in a relationship with each other, but I do. They're just my kind of hero — Richard is a swordsman, his gentle demeanor at odds with his ruthlessness and a general enjoyment of killing people. Alec is a scholar with a dark past and a suicide wish. He picks fights, and Richard ends them. Neither of them is exactly nice, but they're charming and engaging.
2) Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones died this week, which is a huge loss to fantasy lovers and crushed one of my lifelong dreams, that I might meet her someday to tell her I wouldn't be a writer without her. People often ask me "Where does Jace come from?" "Is he based on someone?" "How did you think of him?" But he isn't based on anyone. I think he's what washes up on the shore of my imagination from the roiling trope of the blond, snarky, morally ambiguous guy who fears his own capacity for love. (Read lots of books — that guy is out there in many forms.) Howl from Howl's Moving Castle fits a few of those tropes: blond, snarky ("I'm that worst of all things — a Welshman who can't sing") and his heart is literally not his own. He dresses more like Magnus, though, and he and Jace would not agree on hair product. I crushed on him when I was a teeny tiny thing of eleven.
3) Sorensen Carlisle from The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
If I mention him to my friend Sarah she makes a high pitched "eeee" sound like a whistling train. The Changeover is set in New Zealand, and is the story of a girl who must "change over" into becoming a witch to save her little brother. To do so she has the help of Sorenson "Sorry" Carlisle, a prefect at her school. Tall, blond, a little sarcastic, afraid of getting hurt — which makes sense, considering his horrible early life.(See the pattern here.) But he's still just a teenage boy:
"Laura did take a deep breath and realised as she did so that Sorry was not watching her face, but the rise and fall of the breath under her old pyjama jacket. He sighed himself, met her eyes, and gave her a smile both deprecating and conciliatory.
"You did invite me in," he pointed out, "even though you knew I was a mixed blessing.""
4) Dexter from "This Lullaby" by Sarah Dessen
Dexter is out of my normal type of fictional crush. He's gangly and he's broke and he lives with his band and they write songs mostly about potatoes. But he's sweet and funny and passionate and not in the least bit embarassed to have emotions or be goofy. I rarely crush on guys from realistic fiction but this is one of my exceptions along with . . .
5) Wesley Rush from the Duff by Kody Keplinger
Once I had a conversation with Kody about our mutual love of Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl (the show, not the books, which I have never yet read) it all clicked into place. The broken-hearted handsome rich boy who covers it all up with partying and sleeping around and self-medicating with booze and pills is a distaster area in real life but somehow compelling in fiction. In the show, it's Ed Westwick's ability to convey heartbreak with his eyes while smirking with his mouth. In the Duff, it's bad-boy Wesley going crazy-jealous when he realizes the girl he's treated as just a hookup — well, she thinks of him as just a hookup too.