Michael J. Sullivan asks . . . Why do people like rogues? (Guest Post)

Why do people like rogues?

They don’t.

No one says, “Hey honey, let's wander the dark alleys in the shady part of town. With any luck, we’ll bump into someone nefarious who we can ask back to the house for cocktails.”

But lately, people do like reading about them.

People like stories with rogues for the same reasons they like stories with vampires, zombies, navy seals, assassins, CIA agents, and werewolves. They’re interesting. They live by their wits, always have a witty comeback and exude that “don’t mess with me vibe” that makes them so cool.

Nobody wants to read a story about Stu. Stu sells insurance, drives a minivan, is an avid Civilization V player is just discovering The Simpsons on Netflix and thinking about risking it all and give “iced” coffee a try. Many readers already know a Stu and avoid him whenever possible. If Stu is walking their way, they can’t get their cell phones out fast enough,   pretending to receive an important phone calls they just have to answer. Pressing the phone to their ear, they walk away saying, “What? Are you serious? No—it’s okay, just let me step outside. I can’t believe this. Dolphins—again?”

Stus are boring. It’s the people in Hell that are having all the fun.

People respect individuals who have the guts to pop their finger at rules and live life on their terms. They think this most often while locked in traffic half a mile from the exit and staring at that empty shoulder while thinking what if?

What if I was a rogue? Is my life too much like Stu’s?

Sometimes people read to learn something. Some read them to sip fine prose and marvel at the aroma of buoyant literary imagery, symbolism, and metaphor. Most often novels are vehicles in the amusement parks of our minds. You strap yourself into your chosen genre and scream your way down the story, imagining yourself as that adventuresome, balls-to-the-wind anti-hero who never sits in traffic inching forward through their life. Still, few ever pull onto that shoulder and race up to the exit. Roads less traveled are often best traveled in books. In real life, you get caught; tickets are expensive, and your insurance goes up.

In books, we can dream. We can be bad without remorse, without guilt; we can stand up for ourselves and dare the universe to smite back. Books are portals to magical worlds, but the reader is always on the rollercoaster’s track, always safely belted in their seat with a hard foam shoulder bar pressing down. It’s just a ride and nothing more, and yet for a moment when the ground gives way and gravity lightens we can’t help but feel what they feel—that incredible rush of freedom.

It’s fun to read about rogues the same way it’s fun to read about vampires, zombies, and werewolves—no one actually wants to be one, but we imagine it must be better than being Stu.



Ragnarok, the publisher that already delivered on an awesomely successful Kickstarter campaign with the KAIJU RISING: AGE OF MONSTERS anthology, are at it again with BLACKGUARDS: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues.

This is set to be a premium collection of 20+ short stories by popular writers, featuring stories set in their most popular worlds. Included are Michael J. Sullivan's RIYRIA, Carol Berg's DUST AND LIGHT, David Dalglish's world of DEZREL (where his SHADOWDANCE series is set), Mark Lawrence's BROKEN EMPIRE, and many more.

All the stretch goals have been achieved, so this is a real thing with some amazing bonus features, but you still have a few days to get in on the action and support it.


  1. I'm a backer! When I heard that Ragnarok had a new anthology up on Kickstarter and then I saw that list of authors, I hit that pledge button so fast... Can't wait to see some of these stories, including Mr. Sullivan's.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  2. People in hell are having all the fun - at least they were before they got there!
    Rogues live the secret, kick-butt life we all wished we could lead.

  3. That sounds awesome! I'll definitely have to check it out. Alex is right, We all wish we could be them - even if we don't want to invite them in for tea (or something stronger)

  4. Fantastic! I'm now a backer and can't wait to read more stories about rogues; they're some of my favourite characters, in all senses of the word. Thanks for posting this, Bob!


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