Today I’d like to welcome author Kim Foster, the author of the tremendously fun new book A Beautiful Heist (review here). She’s here to talk about…
The Irresistible Appeal Of A Good Heist
by Kim Foster
The heist story, especially on the big screen, is a well-loved genre. Capers have been a staple in Hollywood for decades—whether we’re talking about Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief in 1955, The Great Train Robbery from way back in 1903, or more recent blockbusters (and remakes) like Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job.
But what accounts for the enduring appeal? Well, being a writer of heist stories, I’ve given this a lot of thought, obviously. And here’s what I’ve come up with.
The Vicarious Pleasure
Pulling off a heist is the sort of daring act that people, in their day to day lives, tend not to attempt. The danger of falling to your death, the likelihood of going to prison—these are all effective deterrents, yes? Which is why it’s so thrilling to read about, and watch, other people doing such death-defying things.
A heist is often structured such that the protagonist-criminals are up against a big bad corporate power with endless resources and money and, frequently, a nasty disposition (think Andy Garcia’s character in Ocean’s Eleven). Just like in sports movies, we love to cheer for the underdog.
The challenge of going up against all that security, all that power, not to mention the layers of law enforcement…well, it usually means our protagonists, the criminals, need to be clever. And they need to dig deep to succeed. It’s what compelling fiction is made of, really—heroes who are facing insurmountable odds. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be much of a story.
Cheering for the Team
Tackling mission impossible usually requires a team. And that’s something we like to see in our stories—teams working together. Plus, the more motley the crew, the better. A hodgepodge of people, each bringing a different skill set to the table, and all those moving parts working together, well it’s great fun to watch and very satisfying when it all comes together.
A Criminal We Can Root For
Heists and capers aren’t the only stories with less than honourable protagonists. The anti-hero is a compelling character in many genres. I think, as humans, we’re fascinated by people with layers and contradictions and secrets, and characters who are more than they appear. Of course it can go too far, and then sometimes the anti-hero is just, well, the villain. The key thing about a thief is the non-violent crime. You can get behind a crook who’s not looking to hurt people. A crook who’s attempting to take on Goliath, using his or her own unique talents. That’s a character we can root for.
So how about you? What’s your favourite heist story?
Kim is kindly giving away one ebook copy of A Beautiful Heist! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.