The Making of a Villain

So I’ve starting researching serial killers for my next book (that sounds so morbid! Gaad!) There is a quote floating around the internet, apparently by John Rogers that says ‘you don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world’.

When we hear about the heinous crimes (cue in Law & Order theme song) that plague society, especially unthinkable murders, the first thought on everyone’s mind is ‘but WHY?’ What type of mind must an individual have to be commit such horrifying acts? What events in their life led them to deteriorate to such depravity? Where they ever ‘normal’? What ruined them? How did they lose their souls?

My initial intention wasn’t to make my unsuspected villain a murderer. I enjoy writing fantasy romance after all. However I’ve always loved reading crime thrillers. My latest project is turning out to be a fusion of fantasy, romance, suspense and crime. There is a murderous villain at the core of my story and I’ve begun researching serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Son of Sam to help with developing my villain’s character.

The more I dig into the history of these famous killers, the more fascinated I’ve become. Sure some of them were flat out psychopathic and some were dark and disturbed after surviving an abusive or dysfunctional childhood. But it seemed some were otherwise generally normal people who allowed a frightening fascination with the dark and taboo to grab hold of their minds until it spiralled to compulsive obsession.

Those are the killers I found most fascinating of all.

These are the neighbours, colleagues, friends, acquaintances or family members who leave us shocked because we would never have suspected that they could sink to such low levels of depravity.

And so my villain will be like that. An otherwise normal guy with a twisted fascination that may  have started out harmless enough, but manifested and spiralled as the years rolled by.

The hottie on my book cover is not, of course, my murderous villain. He’s one of the complex main characters, but more on him later.

The mind can be a dangerous thing.

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The Aloof Man

So the leading male character of my current project is so walled not even an army of bulldozers can get through to him. As he steps off the pages of my notebook I take a good look at him. He’s a tad bitter from failed relationships, sure. He is busy with his career, of course. He just doesn’t have the time or interest in frivolous things such as…uh…love.

How do we break down the walls of a man like this. And in any case, shouldn’t he be chasing us? Or pondering how to break down our walls? But we can’t stand the intrigue. We wrestle against the challenge. We just have to know what makes the guy tick.

Curiosity will always get the best of us. And the plot thickens…

Ghosts and Poltergeists – oh, now I know the difference

Why am I researching this? I’m practically afraid of the dark as it is. From what I can determine, it seems ghosts are known to attach themselves to places. Poltergeists are known to attach themselves to people. Wherever spirits are trapped, might be devoid of time and space as we know it (if a little boy’s ghost has been wandering the staircase for decades, he might not be experiencing time and space in the same way as us. To him it could all be one brief moment).

Poltergeists attach themselves to people and are particularly fond (according to my research) of young children, especially girls.

Ghosts tend to be linked to specific places where certain gruesome activities such as murders may have taken place. Ghosts are known to haunt places where the deceased used to visit or reside before death.

Poltergeists are not confined to any particular area and are usually associated with specific objects and persons.

Ghost are more inclined to make an appearance. Poltergeists cause disturbances by manipulating forms of energy that a living person controls unknowingly. It may move or influence physical objects.

Ghostly energy continues over time.

Poltergeist’s energy builds up over time, reaches climax then slows…then climaxes again.

(excuse me a minute, while I go turn on all the lights and play some cheesy and friendly Disney music)

Ghosts are not violent. Poltergeists are dangerous, inflicting both physical and mental terror.

Ghosts are the passive souls of the dead. Poltergeists are aggressive souls of the departed.

One theory of ghosts is that energy remains for long periods of time, before it moves on to another form. Another theory is that ghosts are little more than strong emotions that have somehow become imprinted upon their surroundings.

The stories and experiences involving ghosts, spirits and poltergeists are never ending. Writing a paranormal ghostly romance is going to be one helluva experience.

 

Ghost

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Oh the stories that abound about ghosts and spiritual entities! I’ve had to research ghosts for one of my current WIPs. Not the greatest idea, hunched over my laptop at night with the screen glowing eerily into the dark. People have their opinions about ghosts and spirits but I couldn’t find too many websites debunking the claim.

The research continues but the research I’ve come across is fascinating. More on this a bit later…

David Williams inspires my Ezra Blair

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I totally didn’t expect this to happen (yeah right). David Williams – Australian pro rugby player, is strangely inspiring the 19th Century hero of my latest WIP. Is it the ruggedness? The calm gaze? The slight beard and tousled hair? Oh how I love rugby players. And how I love crumbling castles, abandoned libraries, forgotten cemeteries, the pebbled streets of London, Victorian secret scandals and the titillating erotic touch of a time traveler. And if I didn’t mention it already…I friggin love rugby players.

Navajo Skinwalkers

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I’ll admit, I had never heard of Skinwalkers before researching alternative shapeshifters for my fantasy romance book. I didn’t want to use the typical romance fantasy stock characters (vampires, werewolves etc) and so thought I’d try something new. I figured with my Native American (Pequot and Cherokee) and Caribbean (St. Kitts) ancestry there would be plenty of folklore and legends to have fun with. Alas after much research I came across the Navajo Skinwalkers.

It seemed a bit nervy of me to put a romantic and erotic spin on this terrifying folklore but I just couldn’t resist. This isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill boogeyman story most cultures have. Many Native Americans secretly truly believe in the existence of Skinwalkers and shy away from discussing it, in the same way some Christians don’t want to discuss demonic spirits. They’re afraid of drawing bad attention their way.

So what are skinwalkers exactly? They’re a class of outcast, mostly male witches and practitioners of black magic. Yeah, that’s right. We’re talking corpse powder, desecration of tribal sand paintings, chanting etc and vile activity that I would rather not mention. (Well okay, cannibalism, incest, necrophilia, cemetery robberies etc). Some of the encounters and claims I read about were horrifying. How the heck could I take a folklore like this and make a light fantasy romance of it? I mean for crying out loud the violence is bad enough, but to also shapeshift into these creatures, the male witches would have to walk around naked with nothing but animal skin over their heads and shoulders. That may seem sexy to some, but for a modern-day story, that is a little hard to work with. (I took the liberty of using wolf-skin wrist cuffs instead *blush*).

 

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What drew me to this evil folklore? I think the shamanistic aspect caught my attention (is the painting below the work of Kirby Sattler? So awesome). I love the mysticism of shamanism and what Native Americans generally stand for. The connection with animal spirits and nature and the spirituality of that connection is fascinating and mysterious. I wish I had delved more into it, but this is a light novella, meant for entertainment (and hot, steamy scenes!)

The research deeply inspired me though. I now feel compelled to write something more serious and in-depth that fully encompasses the beauty, mystery, complexity and depth of Native American Folklore.

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