Tag Archives: will viharo

Will Viharo Discusses Glorifying Rule-Breakers

Why do criminals fascinate us so much?

I’ve asked a number of authors I admire to answer the same question–why do criminals fascinate us so much?–and I will be posting each response here on my blog. It’s a question all writers–especially crime writers–should consider every once in a while. In my debut novel, Toxicity, I’ve dug deep into the minds of criminals, and I’ve revealed their true selves. If you haven’t pre-ordered a copy yet, I highly recommend you doing so for purely selfish reasons. And now that you’ve done that, we will pass the time hearing what other writers in the industry have to say about the posed question.

Today we have Will Viharo, author of Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, Lavender Blonde, and Down a Dark Alley. You can find out more information about his work over at his website.

Take it away, Will.


We all commit “crimes”—meaning deeds that somehow harm or offend others—in various ways to sundry degrees. No conscience is completely clean. But these are often private matters of the heart conducted outside the radar of the general public, mainly dealing with interpersonal relationships, that aren’t deemed illegal. The fascination with fellow citizens designated as “criminals” by society—i.e. those breaking actual laws on the books—is that they’re perpetrating acts of violence, vandalism and vice that typically victimize innocent people, merely for the sake of their own survival and comfort. You could say the same of any carnivorous animal in the wild, though even most of those “lower” species’ innate killer instincts come with a discriminating predatory conscience missing from the common two-legged sociopath’s makeup.

So why are these social pariahs, shamelessly preying on the weak and vulnerable, worthy of our interest, much less our admiration? Because they’re acting on primordial survivalist impulses most of us suppress out of mutual respect, learned “traditional values,” cowardice, fear of punishment or retribution, etc. We often live vicariously through the transgressions of those who willfully cross the line while at the same time reveling in their paranoiac plight, especially when they get caught, convicted and condemned. The old “crime does not pay” slogan is once again vindicated, simultaneously validating our rather hypocritical—and hyper-judgmental—moralistic restraint. Still, being humans afflicted with primitive passions deeply embedded in our collective DNA, we can’t help but envy the freedom these reckless rebels exhibit in actively indulging their basest urges, even if it’s at the expense of others, in pursuit of their own selfish interests, boldly disregarding conventional borders of behavior. We glorify the rule-breakers even as we shun them. It’s Nature at its cruelest, and purest.

Criminals fail to fascinate once the voyeur becomes the victim.