05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Cannibal Irony

Cannibals are evil, right? They kill and eat people, and that is inherently wrong. Yet Cannibals are some of the most interesting characters in my story world. How can readers possibly bond with someone who does something so evil?

In Botanicaust, the Cannibals survived the demise of world food crops by refusing to be picky. Yes, they eat humans, but not exclusively. They eat anything. And they don’t believe in wasting. Their culture evolved as the ultimate conservationists. They have laws to protect people with knowledge that must not be lost. And only certain bands, called Hunters, actively hunt and kill other people. The rest of the Cannibals are gatherers, healers, craftsmen, and parents. If the situation suits them, they take pity on outsiders.

Beyond the one nearly unforgivable trait that defines them, Cannibals in Botanicaust have many good qualities. There is a reason for what they do, proven again and again by a harsh environment. Readers can empathize with the need to survive. And that is the crux of memorable characters; the reader doesn’t have to actively like them, only empathize with them.

Can you think of a character with a serious flaw who for some reason, you bonded with anyway? What redeemed that character for you?

© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.

Cross posted at and


Brinda said...

Your story sounds intriguing. I'll be excited to read it.

Judith Ashley said...

All I can say is "WOW!" I had no idea your characters were Cannibals but it is an intriguing idea. I remember the plane that crashed in the Andes. The only people who survived were the ones who found a way to eat the flesh of the ones who had died. I've always been so thankful I've never had to make that kind of decision.

I can't think of a character with a serious flaw with whom I've bonded but I can think of characters who've faced insurmountable choices who've made a lasting impression on me. The book and movie "Sophie's Choice" comes to mind.

Thank you for a thought-provoking post, Tam.

Tam Linsey said...

I hope you can soon, Brinda!
Judith, I loved Sophie's Choice! Giving my characters two really hard choices makes for great writing fun :)

Sarah Raplee said...

Tam, I bonded with Grandma Mazur in the Stephanie Plum books. She's lost her inhibitions due to dementia, so she blurts out whatever's on her mind (no matter how inappropriate) and does whatever she wants, from carrying a gun in her purse (which she's been known to fire), to opening coffins at funerals out of curiosity, to blurting out sexual fantasies in front of guests. I like her because she isn't mean-spirited, she's spunky, and she's resilient.

Great post and great question!

Tam Linsey said...

I haven't read the Stephanie Plum books, but Grandma sounds great! Thanks for commenting, Sarah :)

B. A. Binns said...

I admit to bonding with one of my own characters, Malik Kaplan, a guy who beats his girlfriend, no less and tries to blackmail another girl for sex. I swear I started out hating him, but by the end I began thinking he has to have something going for him, doesn't he? Now I'm seeing if he can possibly be at least partialy redeemed in the sequel.

And, having just seen X-Men First Class I'm going to admit a bonding with Eric, aka Magneto. His backstory is so profound and complex, I find myself on his side, even when he evolves into the ultimate bad guy out to take over the world.

Maybe that's it, I love the really bad guys.

Tam Linsey said...

Great examples, B.A.!

Melissa Jarvis said...

That's a fascinating premise. What comes across is that the characters are doing what it takes to survive, and they are not vicious or wasteful about it. There's not much of a line between them and vampires if you think about it. One just got a better rap, in the sex department at least!

Tam Linsey said...

Oh, that is a great analogy between vampires and the cannibals in Botanicaust. Thanks for posting, Melissa!