Today I have Marian Lanouette talking about villains! What makes a good villain in fiction? read on to find out!
Aren’t we all a little villainous? Didn’t you take that last piece of cake when you knew your brother was saving it? Didn’t you make some snide remark about your best friend’s outfit to another person?
Today I’m not talking about those actions. I’m talking about the villains in books and movies that keep us coming back. Villains like Lex Luther in Superman and Max Cady in Cape Fear. When these bad guys scare the wits out of me I’m the happiest. Why? Because the writers did their jobsâ€”they entertained us, scared us and had us going home thankful we didn’t have these characters in our life.
Nothing makes me happier than when a reader goes out of their way to tell me how much my bad guys creeped them out. Talk about a thrill. Â Phil Lucci in Burn in Hell garnered me many compliments. I had one reader tell me she had a hard time sleeping the night Kyra met Phil. Ah, music to my ears. Violins peak, than fade out.
To develop characters with such flaws I research criminals and serial killers. Let me tell you I have never in my life dealt with such darkness.Â In fact, for my WIP (work in process) the third book in the Jake Carrington Series, I had to stop the research after two weeks. These are sick men and women who are wired so differently than you and I. Knowing how their minds work while they live next door to you, until that fateful day when they turn their fantasies into realityâ€”is how you build the tension in the books.
What I find so amazing about most is, in real life and fiction, how normal they appear until that moment in time when they reveal their true natures. It’s the threat of what’s to come that glues us to our seats in the movies. Or has us sitting up late into the night turning the pages to see if the villain gets what they deserve.
It’s the promise of the kill or the arrest that pulls you through the story. Ah, but there are times when I wish the bad guys would win. Have you ever wished for the villain to win?
Here’s a taste of Phil Lucci. What do you think?
Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery.
The guard led them down a long, tiled hallway covered in oriental rugs and expensive artwork on the walls. He opened a set of pocket doors and ushered them into a beautifully appointed office. A large, masculine cherry-wood desk stood as the focal point of the room. A floor to ceiling window behind the desk looked out onto the lake. It showcased the owner perfectly.
It said, â€˜Iâ€™m powerful and dangerous, donâ€™t waste my time.â€™ A marble statue stood in the cornerâ€”a toga-draped Roman woman pouring water from a pitcher. The couches and chairs were covered in soft, supple, beige leather. The walls were a dark tan and the rugs were red, pulling the whole room together. Why she took this all in she couldnâ€™t say, but it was the man
behind the desk who really held her attention. Jet black hair framed beady, black
eyes and exaggerated an already prominent hawk-like nose in a narrow face. The face wasnâ€™t handsome so much, as interesting. He looked ferocious.
â€œAh, Ms. Russell, itâ€™s a pleasure to meet you.â€
As he stood to take her hand, she hoped she hid the surprise that he stood the same height as herâ€”small for a man, at five feet four inches. Did he have the Napoleon complex to go along with his heightâ€”or lack thereof?
â€œHi. Iâ€™m sorry. I donâ€™t know your name.â€ Her eyes never left his face.
She tried to remove her hand from his, but he held on. Frightened, she tried aÂ smile.
â€œWhat a surprise you are. Leave us, all of you,â€ he commanded.
â€œMr.â€”â€ Joe tried to speak.
â€œI said leave. Including you, Angelo. Weâ€™ll be fine here, wonâ€™t we, Ms. Russell?â€
â€œIâ€¦guess,â€ Kyra stammered, as they scurried from the room. Iâ€™m theÂ sacrificial virgin being offered up to the gods.
â€œYouâ€™ll be okay, Ms. Russell. May I call you Kyra?â€
â€œYes, a surprise you are, Kyra, both in beauty and intelligence.â€
They watched each other, assessing. â€œWhy intelligence?â€
Laughing, he answered. â€œBecause you hold your tongue and observe. NotÂ many womenâ€¦no, thatâ€™s not trueâ€¦not many people are smart enough to keepÂ quiet and listen. Do you know why youâ€™re here, Kyra?â€ He stared into her eyes.
â€œYes,â€ she whispered, and looked away from his piercing gaze.
He let go of her hand, offered her a seat. â€œPlease sit. Would you likeÂ refreshments?â€
â€œNo, thank you.â€ She took the single chair by the couch. His laughter unnervedÂ her. What the f–k was amusing him?
â€œI like polite. Are you afraid Iâ€™ll sit too close to you?â€
Small talk and flirting were not what sheâ€™d expected. â€œNo. I donâ€™t know whatÂ to expect from you, Phil.â€
â€œHonesty. I like that too.â€
He sat in the chair opposite her, never taking his eyes off her. Kyra adjustedÂ her position and sat perfectly still, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes lowered,Â waitingâ€¦
The silence filled the room. She understood heâ€™d talk when he was ready. AÂ smart man. He waited also. Intimidation seemed to be his game and he played itÂ well. Hell, it worked. Not going to lay his cards on the table until he made aÂ decision about her. I donâ€™t have all night. Hoping he got to it sooner, rather thanÂ later, Kyra reined in her temper. It took all her control to do it.
â€œYour colorâ€™s brightened. Are you hot?â€
â€œAre you annoyed?â€
â€œDid I do something to make you mad?â€
â€œNo, Phil. Iâ€™m nervous. I know what you want from me. I donâ€™t have a choice, so Iâ€™d like to know how and when,â€ Kyra answered impatiently.
Â * * * *
â€œI can see youâ€™re nervous, but you and I havenâ€™t spoken about anything, so Iâ€™m not clear on how you know what I want. Are you a mind reader, Kyra?â€ He watched her stare at the floor.
â€œLook at me, Kyra.â€ He waited until she raised her eyes to his. â€œNobody, Kyra, knows what I think or what I need. Itâ€™s how Iâ€™ve succeeded in life. Do you understand?â€
â€œItâ€™s difficult to have a conversation with you if youâ€™re only going to give one syllable answers.â€
Her eyes drew his attention from the moment she entered the room. They heldÂ his interestâ€”damn, they were mesmerizing. How she wound up here baffled him.
â€œIâ€™m sorry. This is a first for me.â€ She shrugged.
He pressed a button on his desk. Moments later a maid walked in. â€œYes, sir?â€
â€œBring a pot of coffee with some Danish.â€
â€œRight away, sir.â€
They sat in silence until the maid came back with the coffee. Phil moved around the room, trying to decide if heâ€™d use her. Normally, he couldnâ€™t care less about a tool. Make no mistake, she was a tool, but there was something about this one he wanted to get to know. Ah, but business was business. He cleared his mind, studied her some more. No matter how hard she tried to hide her nerves, they showed, along with her unhappiness. Her movements jerky while her gaze scannedÂ the room like a cornered animal. Phil poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.
â€œKyra, why donâ€™t you tell me why youâ€™re here?â€
Â * * * *
Where to begin, she thought, sipping the coffee, ignoring the burn. Her head spinning with a dozen answers. â€œJoe Dillonâ€™s my host at the casinoâ€”Iâ€™m in debt way over my headâ€”he made me an offer to pay off my debt so I could start over again.â€
She took a deep breath when she finished, looking into his eyes. Scared, not able to read him.
â€œIs this something you would normally do?â€
What, is this man crazy? â€œNo. He gave me two options. Neither appealed to me, both were absolutely out of the question, but I donâ€™t have a choice.â€ She dropped her head in defeat.
* * * *
He liked she didnâ€™t cry, didnâ€™t apologize, or blame anyone else for her troubles. Kyra took the responsibility for her actions. â€œThen why are you here?â€
Her head jerked up. â€œExcuse me?â€
â€œI askedâ€¦why are you here? Itâ€™s a simple question.â€ His voice hardened.
â€œI told you I have no choice.â€
â€œI understood I had no choice when Joe presented it to me.â€
â€œWe all have choices, Kyra. You can choose one of the options Joe presented to you or walk away and never look back.â€
If he hadnâ€™t been studying her face he would have missed the shock and then the surprise that overrode it. Sheâ€™s a bevy of emotions. He enjoyed watching her reactions. It would be easy to control her.
â€œWithout any trouble?â€
â€œWhat trouble could I cause you?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t know you.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right, you donâ€™t.â€ He paused. â€œI understand you have a son. It must be hard to work full-time and be a parent.â€ He smiled benevolently.
â€œI donâ€™t want to speak about my son.â€
Heâ€™d frightened her. Phil liked fear, another element he used often in controlling people. â€œNormally, I canâ€™t shut a mother up about her children.â€
â€œTrevor doesnâ€™t come into this, understand?â€ Ballsy too. â€œAre you threatening me, Kyra?â€ He smiled without humor.
â€œNo,â€ she whispered.
â€œGood. If I decide to use you, youâ€™ll have no say in anything. Anything, you got that?â€
â€œGood. I donâ€™t hurt children. Iâ€™m insulted that after spending less than half an hour with me youâ€™d think I would.â€ Anger peppered his words.
â€œTrevorâ€™s everything to me. I neededâ€¦I had to make sure.â€ Her voice quavered.
â€œI understand. But you understand, if we move forward, I own you. Own you, Kyra.â€ He stared her down.
She lowered her head, sat in silence. He noticed her hands shake, watched her gather her strength before she replied.
â€œIâ€™d like to know what you mean by â€˜own me.â€™â€
â€œExactly that. Do you need a dictionary?â€ Sarcasm dripping off his every word.
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Cindy here again!
Thanks for being here, Marian. I love a good villain. Your villain sounds very creepy. Must check out the book!
Until next time…