Monday, November 12, 2012

Fashionable Vices, Got Any?

It has occurred to me that many books seem to be lacking in vice, lately. Characters have depth, attitude, sass, brawn, mental problems, etc. Rarely do I see the classic habits that once populated books of an earlier era when things like smoking cigarettes, drinking martinis (or other drinks), and gambling seemed to be elements of the status quo.

I started wondering what the fashionable vices are for the 21st century. I wonder if there are *any*, or if I am just not reading gritty enough books. Are vices relegated only to the really gritty books?

Smoking cigarettes, pipes, etc, is definitely not popular any more, and if there happens to be a character who smokes, he or she is usually the bad guy. Maybe introducing those smokeless cigarettes or nicotine patches could work for a vice now?

Drinking seems to be hit or miss today. The fantasy genre is safe with tankards of ale, and wine tends to be particularly popular in other genres. There still isn't a character drinking on every other page, at least not in the contemporary books that I read. Coffee is acceptable in excess.

If I turn to my beloved authors of an earlier era such as Erle Stanley Gardner, I can find plenty of fashionable vices, of course. Smoking is definitely up there on at least every other page. Gambling drives many plots and drinking tends to be a tossed in with flasks in the glove compartments of cars, or drawers of desks, and it's usually always brandy or whiskey.

That's for Erle Stanley Gardner's books, but many of my authors of earlier eras such as Mary Stewart and Phyllis A. Whitney include characters who smoke, especially.

This all came up for me because I wanted to introduce a character who was not a bad guy, but who had a fashionable vice of today. I wanted him to smoke, but I am pretty sure that is now taboo for a hero level character.

So, I am asking, and I am really asking… What are some fashionable vices that you stumble across while you are reading contemporary fiction of any genre?

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