What Makes Con Artists So Fun

Hi, everyone! Today I’m happy to introduce you to Jason Mosberg, author of GRIFT, a YA con artist story set in sunny Las Vegas. Read on for more info on his book (which is available as of today!) as well as his take on what makes con artists so appealing…

Isn’t the thief supposed to be the bad guy? The thief is the villain that the good guy is trying to catch, right? Not always. The con artists manage to be the main characters in popular books and movies such as Catch Me If You Can, Ocean’s 11, Matchstick Men, The Grifters, and The Sting. Not only are they the main characters, but they earn our praise and support. We want them to win. We want their grifts to succeed. But why?

For starters, a con artist is never taking the victim’s money by brute force. They’re not typically using weapons or physically harming anyone in the process. They’re taking the money by outwitting their mark – or victim. In fact, in most cases, the con artist isn’t actually taking the money. She’s tricking the mark into giving it to her.

Con stands for confidence game or confidence trick. This stems from the idea that you first gain your mark’s confidence, then you defraud them. The words game and trick are telling of why these are so fun to read about. They really are forms of games or magic tricks. In some cases, the cons become a sort of game of wits between the grifter and the mark. A competition arises where there’s a clear winner and loser. Other times, the cons play out more like tricks, and it’s always fun to see the setup and payoff of a good magic trick.

Another element that makes con artists fun and likeable relates to who the victims are. Many marks tend to have certain characteristics that make them vulnerable to the con. Examples of these traits include greedy, naïve, envious, jealous, dishonest, desperate, selfish, vain, and opportunistic. These are not positive characteristics. If the marks are greedy, selfish individuals, they don’t earn as much sympathy when they get screwed over, and there can even be some wish fulfillment and enjoyment in seeing them learn a lesson.

The YA novel Grift presents a great example. The book features a crew of orphaned teenage con artists living Las Vegas. Piper, the main character, masquerades as a prostitute to con rich men. In Grift, the con artists are the main characters, and they’re nothing short of fun. The setting of Las Vegas enhances the coolness of the story. There are a variety of cons used, so the reader is constantly seeing a new trick play out. The marks are gamblers, men cheating on their wives, and at times the casinos themselves, so the reader is rooting for the con artist every step of the way.

Look at that! After earning your confidence that this was just a blog post about con artists, I have now tricked you into reading about my novel.

Haha! Truth. :-) Thanks so much for stopping by, Jason! And I totally, 100% agree with you on everything you said about con artists. Which means I’m sure Julep and Piper would get along famously.

And for everyone else reading along, here’s your chance to get a free e-copy of GRIFT for your very own! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

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JasonMosbergJason Mosberg lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter. His debut novel Grift is available at Amazon and iBooks. You can follow him on Twitter @ThreeStoryJason.

About Mary Elizabeth Summer

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor--er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.
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