Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post: Liz Long + Gifted



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: 

Website
Facebook 
Twitter
Goodreads 


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.

34 comments:

  1. I love when you don't really know who the villain is. And I love when you have mixed feelings, where you see them as human and normal only to be shocked to find out they are evil. But obvious villains are fun too and I tend to think that *maybe* they wont be evil, maybe they'll end up being the one that saves the MC's life or something... great post! Villains are fun. :)

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    1. Thanks Candace! I love the mixed feelings too-you know the author's done their job when you feel as betrayed as the main character when a villain turns!

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  2. That's a great guest post, Liz. My favorite characters are sometimes the villains if they are well written. I love when the villains look like good people on the outside and completely take you by surprise when their evilness is shown. Liz made a very good point about authors needing to spend time on crafting their villains. Very often, I've simply come across villains who are rather bland and predictable, so that removes the fun of guessing who's the bad guy in the book in a way.
    Thanks for sharing, Jenny. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! Learning how to keep from bland and predictable is always important--and harder than most people think! No one wants cliche, but by diving into really crafting your villains, you can make sure you avoid that. Thanks for reading!

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  3. OMG the bullying thing is so sad!! Interesting guest post Jenny :)

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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    1. Sounds like I've succeeded in making a reader have sympathy for the villain. Yes! :) Thanks for reading.

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  4. Jenny, thanks again for having me! I hope you and everyone else enjoy the post. I really appreciate it!

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    1. Happy to have you Liz! Thanks for such a fun post, I just adore villains:)

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  5. I like when the villain starts out unassuming--people underestimate his/her badness and that makes it even better! Circuses kind of freak me out so I'd be looking in every corner for a bad guy... Great post!

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    1. Thanks Mary! And I admit, my circus might be a little freakier than most ;)

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  6. I love no knowing who the villain is! That is possibly the most fun when reading when everyone could be the bad guy!

    Great Interview :)

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  7. Loved the post. Sounds like a great book. I have seen a few bloggers reading it and they liked it. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks so much Savannah! If you check it out, I sure hope you enjoy it along with everyone else :) Have a great weekend!

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  8. Awesome guest post!!! I have not heard of this book before but it sounds great! Honestly I love reading books where the villain is either a mystery or someone who we can actually sympathize for. Well done!

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  9. Great guest post....the first book I ever read about a firestarter was Stephens Kings Firestarter...seriously I read that book like 10 times and have watched the movie tons....I think its the coolest superpower ever...:) Ill have to check out this book.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this fab guest post with us Jenny and Liz! I love a good villain too, especially ones that you love to hate, Felix sounds like an awesome villain who I can't wait to meet! :)

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  11. Oh you are so right a "good" villan really helps to round out a main character. I also love to hate a baddie!

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  12. Yes, A villain has to ellicit just as much of a response as the hero. A good villain makes me anxious every time they enter a scene and I want to punch them in the nose. Felix is definitely not your averwge villain a nerd with an agenda! Love the cover of this one by the way!

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  13. Villains are important and can make or break a story for me. There are so many villains out there that if done just right have some quality about them that makes you love them and hate them at the same time (Warner and Cormac to name a few). Villains are extremely important and I agree you have to spend just as much time developing them, if not more, than the main character. GREAT guest post. :)

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  14. Interesting guest post! I always find villains which are the hardest to pinpoint are the best kind. Even better if it's the last person you would expect. :) I love the thought Liz put into her character. I will have to pick this up one day!

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  15. Wow, great post. It's so important to write good villains. Most people forget about them and they're too often cardboard.

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  16. Really great guest post. Very intriguing villain. Great backstory on him.

    Heather

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  17. I love good villains! They are a must, I do not want a cliche, I want someone who scares me do death, who makes me sick or who..well I fancy ;)

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  18. CIRCUS! Any book that has ANYTHING to do with a CIRCUS is an automatic must-read for me :D Ooohhh I love Liz's paragraph on villains; the best ones are definitely the ones that use their mind and intelligence rather than just looking all bulky and scary. The villains that I can never tell are definitely the best written ones :D Fantastic post Jenny and Liz! I'm looking forward to reading this one day <3

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  19. Villains are the best, okay not really, but they have to be super sneeky and very scary! I like that in a villain! :)

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  20. I have only ever read one book about circuses so I'm very curious about this one! They're such magical, mysterious places and ones with gifted people sounds even better! Smart villains are usually much easier to hate because they use their intelligence and cleverness so cunningly and it's the less obvious ones that are more interesting because they leave you guessing and Felix sounds just like the type of villain I'd love to hate!

    Thanks for the great post, Liz and Jenny <3

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  21. I started blogging back in October 2010 because I had so many books that I completely lost track of which books I had read and which books I hadn't. I also got really bad at remembering what actually happened in some books and I thought that book blogging would help.
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  22. Not really sure what to make of this one either because of the vague description. But I'm still looking forward to reading my ARC! I think it'll be quite a different read from everything else I have in my lineup over the next few months so that's a good thing.


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  23. Just wanted to say thank you again to everyone! You guys are all so awesome!! I'm glad you guys love a good villain as much as I do. They're usually pretty darn fun to write too! :) -Liz Long

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