Today author Liz Long is taking over the blog to talk a little bit about one of my very character types: villains. I love to hate a good villain, and in some cases, love to love an even better villain so I'm thrilled to share Liz's thoughts on these baddies with you:)
Hi everyone! A huge thanks to Jenny for allowing me to be a guest on her blog and a thanks to all her readers for checking it out! I'm Liz Long and I'm the indie author of Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel. My main character, Lucy, has just rejoined her childhood circus; however, it's no regular circus. It's filled with people and creatures who are gifted, meaning they have special powers. No story comes without problems, however, and that includes villains.
My world has more than just a few villains. I won't explain much further (sorry, gotta uphold some suspense!), but I wanted to share how I made one of my villains. Dr. Felix Hardy is of the mad scientist variety, but the problem is, he's very, very clever. He knows the Donovan Circus history, has even been a part of it in a way, and that means that he's able to bend the truth to his advantage since Lucy is new to the scene. When I sat down to write him (I knew his name immediately), I didn't know too much about him yet. I did know, however, that he would not be an obvious villain. Writers must make their villains interesting, away from the typical bad guys with evil laughs. So I made Felix very unassuming. When Lucy meets Felix Hardy, she has no idea what to make of him:
“A figure emerged from the dark. I could only make out the silhouette, but as it got closer, details became clearer. He had a small frame, graying dark hair and he dressed in khakis with a white button-down shirt. Moonlight bounced off black-rimmed glasses over brown eyes that never left my stare. He stopped a few feet from where I stood and I could see a crooked nose where it had presumably been broken once or twice. Who was this nerd? I almost looked for a pocket protector on his chest.”
He’s unusual, nonthreatening, small and wiry. No one would ever guess him to be as dangerous and evil as he really is. I'm a firm believer in the idea that villains don’t need to run around exerting a bunch of strength. Sometimes all it takes is a brilliant mind, which can be even more dangerous than muscle. And really, the fact that Lucy automatically passes him off proves a point–sometimes your enemies don’t simply jump out from the shadows at you. Sometimes they scheme first.
When writers sketch out characters, we spend a LOT of time on a main character. But it’s just as important for writers to focus on their villains, too. When I first wrote Felix, he was a cardboard cutout, a walking cliche that I couldn’t quite grasp yet. When I took a closer look, though, I saw so much more. I wanted to include a piece of his own backstory. Felix continues to tell Lucy:
“I want to share something with you, something only my wife knows.” He paused and looked my way. I raised an eyebrow, curious to see where this was headed.
Felix undid the buttons of the wrists of his shirt and slowly rolled up the long white sleeves. He came closer, stepped into the shallow pool of light that spilled in from the circus grounds. I leaned in despite my misgivings and saw scars all over Felix’s arms. Tiny little circles scattered across his pale skin like freckles.
“Are those cigarette burns?” I asked.
“Not quite. You see, I loved science even as a young boy. My favorite hobby was frying ants with a magnifying glass on my sidewalk. Inhumane perhaps, but at nine years old, it kept me entertained. One afternoon, a bully approached me. My father, his science teacher, flunked him for cheating. This boy stole my magnifying glass out of my hands. He straddled me and proceeded to fry my skin.”
I looked at the shiny white spots and felt nauseous. Marks covered Felix’s skin. I could even make out scars on his neck behind the collared shirt. I looked at his face again, processed his severely broken nose and quiet, geeky demeanor. I would bet my gift that the torture had continued for several years.”
After I wrote that out, it gave me a whole new insight to Felix. Suddenly I felt bad for him, even believed that maybe he wasn’t a bad guy. And who knows? Maybe he’s not as bad as you think. Maybe there's a reason for why he is the way he is...or maybe he’s just plain bonkers. You’ll have to read Gifted to find out!
Thanks so much to Jenny and all of you guys again! Hope you're all having a terrific week! And I'd love to hear your thoughts on great villains in the supernatural genre, as well as what makes a great villain!
Thanks so much for stopping by Liz! More information on Liz and her books can be found here:
GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL
Even in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.
Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.
When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.