I’m pleased to welcome Jude Knight to my Author Blog today. It is a great way to congratulate her on today’s release of Farewell to Kindness. I had the privilege of an advanced peak at this gem and I know my readers will love it.
Why I love writing villains
by Jude Knight
I don’t want to think too hard about what this says about me, but I love writing villains.
I enjoy creating characters of any kind, and I’ll happily spend days answering questionnaires about my main characters. I really enjoy seeing the people in my head coming to life on the screen as I type, and I’m often surprised by how strong their opinions are about the way the story should go.
But I particularly love listening to and watching my villains. The brakes come off, and I give them the kind of dialogue that suits their personality: sociopath, or spoilt young man, or self-centered society beauty, or thug.
I have both a sociopath and a totalitarian nasty in Farewell to Kindness, and a couple of more complex characters whose villainy has patches of goodness. One of them is slated to eventually become the hero of his own novel, but only after some trials and tribulations that I’m still inventing. And I’ve contemplated writing a novella in which I redeem the villain of Candle’s Christmas Chair.
Even more than other supporting characters, villains need a complex personality and a convincing backstory. No matter how good the protagonists are, if the villains aren’t convincing, the conflict in the story isn’t convincing, and the happy ending isn’t nearly as satisfying. A good story needs an excellent villain.
Here’s how I write villains:
- I pick up things that frighten, worry, or annoy me – in characters on shows, or people in real life. What are the character flaws that cause this response in me? What would the people be like if those flaws were magnified and their good qualities absent or reduced?
- I think about the villain’s past. What terrible things have they done in the past? What terrible things have been done to them? Are they victims lashing out or are they just trouble makers? Were they deprived of love as children or were they born that way?
- What are their redeeming qualities? Do they love their cat? Collect bone china? Have a soft spot for orphans?
When a reader tells me that they loved to hate my villain, I know I’ve done a good job.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Farewell to Kindness with three of my villains. Lydia is a villainess in self-defence; Nat is self-centred and spoilt, and Simon is a right evil lot.
Nat helped Lydia down, and Simon waved them both inside. She went to enter the parlour, but he spoke from behind her. “The kitchen might be better, perhaps.”
It would. She had seen the dead body in the parlour.
Simon tossed the knife on top of the body and followed them into the kitchen.
“I say, Sel,” Nat said, sounding nervous, “what happened to Durney?”
“He failed me,” Simon explained, “so I dispensed with his services.”
“Oh.” Nat shifted uneasily. “But that’s not legal, is it?”
“Would it make you feel better, Bekkers, if I told you he attacked me with a knife?”
Nat gave a sigh of relief. “It was self-defence then. I should have realised. Pity. I thought he was a good valet. He gave my valet quite a few tips. You can borrow my valet if you like, Sel.”
Simon smiled, a cold stretching of the lips. “I expect I’ll manage. Bekkers, be a good fellow and fetch the brandy and some glasses. The brandy is on the sideboard. You’ll have to step over Durney, I’m afraid. There should be glasses around in there somewhere.”
Nat was worrying again. “Shouldn’t we call the authorities?”
“I’ve sent somebody,” Simon told him, with a straight face. “The man who left just as you arrived.”
Would Nat swallow that? Yes. He was looking relieved. Was she that naïve at seventeen? No. She had been Carrington’s wife for four years by the time she was Bexley’s age, any naïvety long since rooted out and withered.
Jude Knight bio
Farewell to Kindness
Regency noir (On prerelease; on sale from 31 March 2015)
Price: US99c to 8 April 2015; USD3.49 from 9 April 2015
For three years, Rede has been searching for those who ordered the murders of his wife and children. Now close to end of his quest, he travels to his country estate to be close to the investigation.
He is fascinated by the lovely widow who lives in one of the cottages he owns. A widow who pays no rent. A widow, moreover, with a small daughter whose distinctive eyes mark her as as the child of his predecessor as Earl.
Six years ago, Anne blackmailed Rede’s predecessor at arrow-point for an income and a place to livein hiding from her guardian’s sinister plans for her and her sisters. He no longer has legal rights over her, but the youngest sister is still only 18. He cannot be allowed to find her.
Rede is everything she has learned not to trust: a man, a peer, a Redepenning. If he discovers who she is, she may lose everything.
To build a future together, Rede and Anne must be prepared to face their pasts.
Heat: PG13 edging towards R in places
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