While I’m signing, schmoozing and meeting many of you at the Romantic Times Convention, you’ll get to read about my friend, novelist Michelle Diener‘s latest great read. Trust me it’s one you’ll want to pick up!
When I wrote Keeper of the King’s Secrets, my recently released historical suspense, I didn’t set out to write a villain who’d strangely tug at my heart strings, but I did. He’s a French assassin called Jean, and part of his appeal is his cause is quite just. They say every villain in the hero of their own story, and in Keeper of the King’s Secrets, the reader knows full well Jean’s motives are quite reasonable and understandable.
It’s how he goes about trying to reach his goals that makes him a villain, and the spot he puts the heroine into in the process. And okay, he’s also a villain because he is a violent and bad man, who steps just too far over the line when it comes to acceptable behaviour. But there is something about him . . . you know how sometimes a man is bad to the bone, and just no good but women are drawn to him anyway? Well, I think Jean has that going on. But he’s one of the bad boys there is no saving, unlike the hero of my story, Parker, who is similar enough to Jean in the first book in this series, In a Treacherous Court, that I kept thinking, there but for the grace of God, and a more finely-honed sense of right, goes Parker, every time I wrote about something Jean does.
I call Jean Parker’s nemesis more than once in Keeper of the King’s Secrets, and that’s because they are so evenly matched, so close in terms of physical and intellectual ability, that it will never be easy for one to get the better of the other. The thing that separates them is that Parker has more respect for human life than Jean, and that difference puts Jean far enough into villain territory that he can’t really come out.
From the cute animated movies MEGAMIND and DESPICABLE ME, to Buffy spin-offs, to Hannibal Lecter fascination, there are plenty of bad guys out there that we love to love. From afar, LOL. And after I wrote the character of Jean, I wondered more than once why that is.
I think it’s because there is a freedom in breaking social and moral rules for selfish reasons that all of us find just a tiny little bit tempting. We know that if we all did it, anarchy would rule and the world would not be a nice place to live, but we like to see someone else do it, and then get their come-uppance, in fiction, because its a safe place to be fascinated. It isn’t really happening and no one is really getting hurt, no matter how deeply the story sucks you in.
What about you? Is there a specific fictional villain you love to love? One commenter will get a copy of Keeper of the King’s Secrets in a random draw (US residents only, unfortunately!).
And a big thank you to Karin and the other lovely MSW ladies for having me here today.