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Primordial YA

It’s been a fairly typical week around the ol’ Kalmes household. One of the cats puked while sitting on the cabinets on top of the fridge. Apparently she was going for distance as well as volume. It was a nice mess, and it didn’t reveal itself in its true enormity until I had already volunteered to be the one to clean it up.

Once you offer to do something horrible in a marriage, you should always follow through, lest you incur ill will or lose the right to get out of something worse later. So, I did it, and while I did, I mulled over the question of what to do with my current novel, a Young Adult fantasy.

See, I set it up with dueling love interests, a lá Edward and Jacob, Peeta and Gale. But one of my guys, Zak, is getting short shrift. He hardly shows up in scene, and when he does, he doesn’t say much. Frankly, the overall plot wouldn’t suffer without him. Dude lifts right out.

And part of the reason for this, I am sorry to say, is that I have already hardened my heart against him. I’m not on Team Zak; I’m on Team Haskel. Because Haskel is the Cyclops and Zak is the Wolverine.

That’s how I tend to refer to these romantic archetypes, using the names of Jean Grey’s two suitors in Uncanny X-Men. The Cyclops is the nice guy, the steady guy, the one who will remember your birthday and make you dinner when you’re feeling whipped. The Wolverine is the sexy guy, the dangerous guy, the one whose kisses light your heart ablaze, who whisks you away on his motorcycle for a steamy weekend filled with passion.

These archetypes show up over and over again in fiction, and that is no surprise, because they show up over and over again in women’s fantasies as well. From an evolutionary standpoint, Wolverine is the guy who will give you strong, healthy children. Cyclops is the guy who will stick with you, and make sure your children survive. They’re the two kinds of men we’re driven to mate with. Regardless of how liberated we are, regardless of where we stand on the subject of NOW, these are the two kinds of men our bodies want us to want.

Some women choose a Cyclops; some choose a Wolverine. If you’re very, very lucky, you wind up with a Cyclops with just a smudge of Wolvy thrown in. Or, another way of putting it: a nice guy with balls.

So, you get how it works, right? Jacob is the Cyclops. Edward is the Wolverine. Peetais the Cyclops; Gale is the Wolverine (although not, I think, its sexiest incarnation?). When it comes to fiction, I am a permanent member of Team Cyclops. Except, actually, in the specific case of Wolverine and Cyclops themselves, in which I defect. And also in the case of Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler. Ashley Wilkes is a faithless milksop who can go screw himself.

And thus, I find myself torn about whether to go on trying to make a case for Team Wolverine in my novel. I mean, all the hot young YAs are milking this dichotomy, so shouldn’t I as well? Or should I just accept that I am who I am—a Cyclops kinda girl—and write the book with a single love interest?

I talked about it to my sister, Kate, and she disputed that the second love interest was actually a good idea. Through this conversation, it came out that she is a member of Team Gale (really? Gale?). And so all the love triangle in The Hunger Games really did for her was make her feel kinda bad and disappointed. But—and here’s the interesting part—Team Gale though she was, she also liked Peeta. She actually felt like she couldn’t get too close to Katniss, because no matter how things shook out, Katniss was going to wind up hurting somebody Kate cared about. It was an interesting take, and made me wonder whether cutting out my own personal Wolverine might not be so terribly, terribly wrong.

So, how about you, readers? Are you Team Cyclops or Wolverine? Do you get pumped for a juicy love triangle, or would you rather just root for two crazy kids who are obviously meant to be together?

6 Comments

  1. kate wrote:

    so. first off- i feel like defending team gale:
    yes, gale is the bad boy- the dangerous rebel who thinks rules are meant to be broken and only the good die young… but! he does have one anchor, one lighthouse in the darkness that keeps him focused and directed towards good. and that, is katniss.

    the same is true of rhett butler and scarlett. the same is true of wolverine. and i imagine, the same is true of zak. (though i’m not saying i’m team zak. from what i know about them now, i’m decidedly team haskel.. i’m a complicated woman.) what i AM saying is that there is something desperately romantic about a rebel without a cause.. but who finds that cause in love.

    but. more to the point: you are completely correct to say that these are the men women want. but more correct in saying that ideally they want a mix of the two. but that’s the thing! we want a mix! we don’t actually want them individually at all. and perhaps this is why i become so attached to both. and why i have trouble identifying with a character that doesn’t realize the wonderful characteristics of each.

    and a final thought is that while women may in fact BE conflicted about what exactly they want in a man, nearly no woman thinks about herself that way. i have trouble identifying with a female character who represents a conflict that i don’t understand i am feeling. no matter how natural that conflict might be…

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  2. jane wrote:

    Whatever, Gale sucks.

    I kid. I kid ’cause I love. Seriously, I DO see where you’re coming from. I’m glad we talked about this, it has me thinking a lot about what I want to do for the book.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
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