Saturday, May 27, 2023

Villain as Mirror – #AmWriting #Villains #NewRelease

Image by Angela from Pixabay

I've been writing all my life, and publishing for more than twenty years, but I'm still learning how to write believable villains. It's all too easy to go off the deep end, to make them so loathsome that they're boring. Pure evil is just too predictable to be interesting.

When my crit partner Chris read my first attempt at a serious villain, Teodoro Raphael Remorros in my Mayan-themed paranormal Serpent's Kiss, he commented diplomatically, “He's a bit of a mustache-twirler, isn't he?” And Chris was absolutely on target. In version one of the book, Remorros was a cartoon. He oozed cruelty from every pore. No one would trust him for a minute – most certainly not my somewhat cynical heroine Dr. Elena. Despite his magical powers, readers would understand immediately that Remorros didn't stand a chance of vanquishing Jorge, the hero. And that removed a significant source of suspense and excitement.

Chris taught me that villains need to be ambiguous, with some flash of brilliance or beauty to balance their darkness. Even more important, villains need a reason to be bad. Their evil deeds must make internal sense, given their situation, goals or history. The most memorable villains believe their actions are justified.

In the most compelling stories, the villain in some way mirrors or resembles the hero (or heroine). The two characters have some fundamental traits in common. This sets up a tension, keeping the tale a bit off balance, because there's always some possibility that the hero or heroine might slip over the line and be lost to the dark side.

Consider Frodo Baggins, the heroic young hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His mirror is Gollum, once a hobbit himself, but so corrupted by magic of the one Ring that he has become a vicious and tenacious wraith eaten alive by desire to reclaim that lost talisman. At the climax of that epic, Frodo, who has journeyed and suffered in the quest to destroy the Ring, finds he cannot bring himself to discard it. In fact, the Lord of the Rings saga features multiple reflecting pairs of characters, one “evil” and one “good”.

In The Eyes of Bast, I introduce a female antagonist, a centuries-old sorceress named Delphine Montserrat. She's malicious and cruel, but has a seductive presence that makes her difficult to resist.

My heroine Shaina Williams appears at first to be an ordinary woman, a compassionate animal lover who falls in love with the feline shape shifter whom Delphine created to be her familiar and her sexual plaything. As Shaina fights for her lover's freedom, however, it becomes clear that she's more like Delphine than she'd realized. She's the heir to her own hereditary magic. And like the sorceress, she's susceptible to the temptation of power and immortality.

Meanwhile, Delphine reveals her history as a victim of sexual and magical exploitation, a history that poisoned her heart and mind. My goal was to kindle some sympathy for the broken, world-weary witch, to demonstrate how evil begets evil.

I actually feel that Delphine is one of the more effective villains I’ve created. I hope that my readers agree.

I’ll give you a quick snippet that highlights Delphine’s paradoxical attractiveness.


I was refilling the litter boxes when Carla stuck her head in the door to the cat room. “Shaina, there’s someone asking for you.”

Be there in a sec.” I slipped the current box back into the relevant cage and went to wash my hands. The old black tom’s gaze followed me as I headed for the front office. “Showtime, kitty,” I murmured, wiping my hands on the apron and swallowing the lump of fear in my throat.

A woman leaned on the counter, trying to catch a glimpse of the back rooms through the half-frosted glass door. She was not particularly tall. She was casually dressed in muted shades of rust and brown. There was nothing obviously remarkable about her and yet once I caught sight of her slender form, I couldn’t look away.

She could have been any age between twenty-five and sixty. Her face was a perfect oval framed by a fashionable, shoulder-length sweep of auburn hair. Her flawless skin was the color of honey. Flustered, my heart pumping a mile a minute, I took in her pointed chin, delicate nose, and the hazel eyes that fixed me like lasers. When she favored me with a smile, I felt bathed in warmth.

Ms. Williams! Thank you for calling me.” She extended a graceful hand. Every finger, including her thumb, wore a ring with a different color stone. This ostentation was so at odds with the rest of her appearance that I hesitated for a moment before I accepted her offered hand. When her cool fingers brushed mine, a sense of well-being flooded my body.

Ah… Oh… That’s okay.”

Can I see Melchior, please? He has been gone for more than a week, and I was terribly worried. I’ve missed him desperately.”

Her concern sounded completely sincere. I wanted nothing more than to put her fears to rest. With a huge effort, I wrenched my mind back to the awful stories Tom had told me about her cruel lusts.

I…uh… Certainly, Ms. Montserrat. Follow me, please.”

I led the way to the cat room, acutely conscious of her stare drilling into my back. Blacky’s cage was toward the back. As we approached, he sat up and stared as if in amazement at the woman by my side. He looked dignified, even handsome, though nowhere near as beautiful as my Tom.

Delphine Montserrat hardly gave the poor cat a glance before turning on me. “This isn’t my Melchior! This is not the cat in your poster!” Her eyes flashed and her smooth brow wrinkled into a scowl.

All the delicious feelings she’d engendered by her mere presence fled. I was paralyzed with sudden terror.

Ah—I’m sorry, Ms. Montserrat, but it is.”

This mangy creature? What have you done with my Melchior?”

Nothing—nothing—this is the black cat we spoke about, I swear!”

Don’t lie to me, you little bitch. The picture on your poster—that cat looked nothing like this disgusting beast!” Her fingers curled into claws by her sides. She seemed to be contemplating raking her fingernails across my face.

The picture? Oh—that came from the Internet.” Ideas started flowing, though where they came from, I had no notion. “I…uh… I told you that I decided to put up notices after the cat had been adopted. I didn’t have Blacky’s picture and since he was gone, I couldn’t take a new one. So I found a photo that looked more or less the same—”

The same?” Her bitter laugh was edged with barely detectable desperation. I wondered whether her desire to reclaim Tom was solely for her own carnal satisfaction. Perhaps without her familiar, her powers were somewhat diminished. “Your Blacky is no more similar to Melchior than…than…than your homely black face is to my lovely visage.”

I hung my head in shame. My personal knowledge of her wickedness did nothing to assuage the misery I felt at having failed her. The weird duality of feelings persisted as she glared at me in frustration and wrath.

You’ve wasted my time for nothing, you stupid girl,” she said finally. “But I suppose it’s possible that someone might find Melchior in the future and bring him here to the shelter. If that happens, you must contact me immediately, do you understand?”

Ah… Yes, ma’am.” I felt as chastened as I sounded.

How many animal shelters are there in New York City, anyway?”

A dozen or so, I believe.”

She released an exasperated sigh. “I suppose I’ll have to visit them all. Get me a list. Names and addresses. Phone numbers too. Now.” She practically dragged me back to the front office and sat me in front of the computer. Carla sent a look of surprise in my direction as I obeyed the witch’s command. She knew I was not normally so compliant.

I searched for the information Delphine Montserrat required, printed it and handed her the sheet of paper. “Here you are, ma’am.”

Thank you.” Her voice had recovered its mellifluous, soothing tones. “I do appreciate your help, Shaina. Be sure to get in touch if you hear anything about my Melchior.”

Buy Links

Kinky Literature

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Barnes and Noble

Kobo -

Apple Books -

Add on Goodreads:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know your thoughts! (And if you're having trouble commenting, try enabling third-party cookies in your browser...)