Title : When Blood Reigns
Author : Barbara Custer
Genre : Horror / Science Fiction
Understanding Your Villain
When I first started writing Steel Rose, I stumbled over the characterization of Laurel Grant because I portrayed her as an evil killer, one with lax grooming, who loved bragging about the way she victimized people who couldn’t defend themselves. I found Laurel thoroughly disgusting and thus difficult to portray, so I described her to author Jonathan Maberry, back when he was coaching the Writers’ Coffeehousein Pennsylvania. He advised me to write a letter from Laurel’s point of view, explaining why she behaves a certain way, her motive for doing the things she does.
Jonathan’s advice worked beautifully. Laurel’s letter detailed her painful childhood. Her parents, both active alcoholics, took their problems out on their children, especially Laurel. Her beloved sister committed suicide. In Steel Rose, I added a tender scene between Laurel and her dog. But she suffers from hallucinations and headaches, and an imaginary visitor orders her to do bad things. By the time we get to When Blood Reigns, her hallucinations and headaches have gone away, but a fusion with DNA from a dinosaur-like creature leaves her with a craving for flesh and blood that won’t quit. Despite her bodily changes, she begins to feel remorse for things she has done in the past. I’ve gotten compliments about Laurel as a character.
Ah, but now, as I work on another sequel, I’m finding myself in the same dilemma with a new villain named Draekh. Draekh is the evil Kryszka guard in When Blood Reigns. In the current release, the reasons for his behavior don’t matter because he’s a minor player. He’s becoming prominent in the sequel, but he repulses me the way Laurel did. In some ways, Draekh’s Kryszka background, along with the telekinetic powers that go with it, precludes a typical childhood as we know it, so this understanding Draekh’s story difficult. Difficult, but not necessarily impossible. Most people, no matter where they live, have to struggle with complicated emotions. Draekh is not the letter-writing type, but he likes to chat while he mixes his poisons. So I have to find a way to get this character to level with me.
What kind of motives do you give your villains? How do you handle villains who aren’t human? I’d love to hear your stories.- Barbara Custer-
Other books by Barbara include Twilight Healer, City of Brotherly Death, Infinite Sight, and Steel Rose; also novellas Close Liaisons and Life Raft: Earth. She enjoys bringing her medical background to the printed page, and then blending it with supernatural horror. She maintains a presence on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and The Writers Coffeehouse forum. Look for the photos with the Mylar balloons, and you’ll find her. To contact her, e-mail her at email@example.com.
Auhor website: www.bloodredshadow.com
Links Amazon: When Blood Reigns