Our new topic here at The LadyKillers is "Villains." Since we ourselves are LadyKillers, we must love our villains, don't you think? I know I do.
But I'm having a tiny problem writing about the villains in my Faye Longchamp mysteries. Think about it. If I describe my villains to you, then dissect each of their motives for murder, I will accomplish two things. If I do it well, I will have achieved a nice little essay on the nature of crime fiction, which is no mean feat. However, I will also have spoiled your pleasure in reading any of those books. Suffice it to say that Faye's antagonists have motives as varied as shame and the fear of prosecution and the love of money.
I do, however, have one book available that will not be spoiled by a discussion of the villain. My ebook, Wounded Earth, is an environmental thriller and, like most thrillers, the reader knows who the villain is from the very outset.
In the case of Wounded Earth, the villain is known from the first word of the first sentence:
"Babykiller was meticulous in all things."
It is very difficult to construct a three-dimensional villain who murders randomly...I guess. I've never tried it. To me, "He's just bad," is the cheater's way out when it comes to creating a character. Now, someone who calls himself "Babykiller" is pretty darn bad. But this character has a wisp of a human side that, I hope, makes the reader want to stick with him through an entire novel. He's wrapped up in an obsessive love for the book's protagonist, Larabeth McLeod. They have a history together, albeit one that is only revealed late in the book, so he has a somewhat rational basis for that obsession. And he resents her, too, for reasons he reveals to her during one of the many conversations he uses to charm her, like a snakecharmer manipulates a cobra.
Babykiller is brilliant, resourceful, and he has a twisted sense of humor. He is a worthy adversary for my strong, successful, powerful Larabeth, and their protracted intellectual duel drives the plot. Larabeth perseveres, ultimately winning their battle, because that is who she is, but no scene is boring when Babykiller is in it.
And that, ultimately, is the secret to great villains. They can strut, they can snarl, they can be bland-faced operatives from governments not our own, but they must never, ever be boring.
May all your villains be interesting ones--