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CRAZY FOR SANE VILLIANS
“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.” We all know the phrase, and the villain who said it, the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. She was the big bad, and everyone feared her. Of course, if you’ve read Gregory McGuire’s Wicked, you’d find out that she was just misunderstood.
Call me crazy, but I prefer the boy or girl next door villains, the ones you don’t see coming, the ones whose motives are oh so reasonable, the ones you can relate to in a “Yes, I’ve thought about taking over the world too,” way. Don’t give me an in your face obvious bad guy like the Joker or Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I want someone who at the end of the story, I’ll wish they were the good guy.
In Past Her Time, my villain was clear. You were meant to hate him (even his own wife didn’t want to kiss him) and cheer for the hero. They were locked in constant battle. For In His Own Time, without giving it away, my bad guy or girl isn’t so apparent. You don’t know who is fighting whom, and which side they’re on. And at the end, if I did my job right as an evil writer, you’ll feel a twinge of sympathy.
I recently saw Skyfall, and I have to say, I think Javier Bardem’s performance as Raoul Silva was mesmerizing. He may very well be one of the most memorable villains in the Bond franchise. His monologue about the future made so much sense, and it wasn’t until he pulled out his facial prosthetic that you realized just how damaged and insane he was. That scene both creeped me out and made me feel sorry for him.
Speaking of monologues, why do villains feel they’re necessary? I caught my villain doing one in In His Own Time, a scene I completely did not intend to write. I couldn’t help but think of The Incredibles, and Syndrome’s self mocking phrase “You got me monologuing.” Do they do it because they want us to understand them? To sympathize? Or cower in fear at their plans of world domination? For the obvious villain, we can go with the “wet your pants” part. But for the less obvious one, I think they want for us to not see them as evil. Going back to Wicked, it’s all a matter of perspective.
For me, the perfect villain is one who could, with a couple of different choices, easily be the hero. Someone whose plans for world domination you might actually want to succeed, unless it involves zombies.
I would love to know—who is your favorite villain and why? Tell me, and you could win my giveaway. See below for details.
A Note from the Book Boost: I love it when the villain surprises me, too. Although, since you mentioned it, there was something to be said about having Buffy's "in your face foe" in Season Five to be both visually appealing and still more powerful than our heroine. As you said, it is all in one's perspective. Nice take you have on the villain your current book. Well done.
There is a traitor in the time travel organization the Lineage, and it’s up to new recruit Victoria Vasquez to discover his identity. After an incident (and stolen kiss) on her first assignment in 1923 Egypt, she suspects she knows who it is.
Veteran agent Banderan, Count of Ibile, is hiding a secret, one that could endanger everything he holds dear. He will do whatever it takes to ensure his goal, no matter who gets in his way.
Victoria has fought hard for her independence, and has no time for arrogant know-it-all men. When both Victoria and Banderan are assigned to 1848 Gold Rush California, they find themselves entangled in a web of deceit and lies. And when they are cut off from the Lineage, it will be up to Victoria to decide if the man she has come to love is a traitor or a hero.
“Señor Ojeda, you must make the acquaintance of my niece Ana, and our dear cousin Victoria,” Aunt Sophia cooed as Aunt Sylvia grabbed poor Ana’s arm, shoving her in the direction of Banderan’s chest. Victoria managed to sidestep the other arm, pretending not to notice the older woman’s glare. Ana blushed and mumbled something to her shoes.
Banderan muttered something equally polite, and then his eyes locked on Victoria. Something passed through the black, gold-specked depths, although she’d swear it wasn’t recognition. Rather, it was almost the same look he’d had right before he’d kissed her at the tomb in Egypt. Victoria tilted her chin up and met his gaze head on, mindful of Nicolai’s advice. Don’t shy away. Make him notice you. And, she added silently, don’t let him intimidate you. She was a Lineage agent. She would not fail.
“I am honored to meet you, Señor Ojeda.” Victoria extended her hand for the obligatory kiss, wishing instead she could slap him with it.
“The pleasure is mine, señora,” he said smoothly, his accent blending with those around him. His hand and kiss were lighter than she expected.
Ana nearly swooned. Poor Roberto, Victoria thought. Forgotten for a smooth charmer with a seduce-me gaze and voice. If only she knew the truth.
Victoria gestured to the table in front of her. “Can I tempt you with something to eat? I’m sure you must be famished from such a long journey. Perhaps some carne or pollo asada? Or does your taste run to more spicy fare?”
“I tend to prefer things with a little more”—he paused, drawing the word out—“flavor.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Victoria noticed one of the aunts nod approvingly, while the other patted her hair with what could almost be called a coquettish wink.
With perhaps a too large smile, Victoria reached up and twirled a lock of hair around her fingers and blinked slowly at Banderan, the closest she could come to an eyelash flutter. “I think I can accommodate you. If you’ll give me a moment?”
“Certainly.”He turned to Ana, who had been hanging on his every unspoken word. The pigeons moved in closer, gesturing to the musicians at the far side of the courtyard. His attention and dances were claimed.
Victoria’s smile changed to an evil grin as she reached under the table for the jar of habanero chiles she’d been saving for Lalo, one of the oldest and senior ranch hands. He preferred his food with a little kick, as he boasted it was the only way he could taste it anymore. Banderan wanted spicy. He would get scorching.
The little plate of beef and tortillas looked innocent enough when she’d finished, the entire jar of habaneros finely chopped and mixed in. According to Lalo, just a few of the burn-your-mouth-hair-singeing chiles could test the mettle of a man, or send him running back to his mama.
At the tap on his shoulder, Banderan turned. Victoria’s innocent smile was back as she held out the plate to him. “I made this especially for you.”
One eyebrow raised, and a smile teased the corners of his mouth. With a small bow he took the proffered food, his fingers lightly brushing the top of her hand. “Gracias.” The word was drawled.
“De nada.” Her eyes were slightly hooded as she waited. Waited for the first bite.
It started with a tear. A single one, which rolled down his cheek. Then a flush, a faint pink that grew redder as it progressed up his neck to his cheeks. A second and third tear followed as his eyes began to water. He blinked and shook his head, one hand reaching up to tug at his shirt. By now, his face was as red as the sash at his waist. The plate dropped from his hand as he began to cough.
“Madre de Dios!”
Victoria placed a concerned hand on his arm. Even his skin felt hot. “Is something wrong, señor? Is my cooking not to your, ah, taste?”
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