About Me

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I love being a mom and a wife. I've married to a man I would do anything for, and we have three beautiful children. I see so much of myself in both of them that it sometimes brings me to tears (happy ones).

I also love writing. Romance to be specific. I love the happily ever after that I believe everyone deserves. My stories aren't 'stop and smell the roses' type romances. While I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily ever after that wasn't found, but earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 

I am also working on a children's picture book series. Inspired (of course) by my kiddos. :)

On the non-writing front, I play acoustic guitar, sing, read like I get paid for it, ride horses, hike, paint rocks, and support a rather obsessive addiction to Pinterest.

I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, mostly with good results. But sometimes, the dogs gets what the family refuses to eat. And they never complain. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Writing a Convincing Villain - Thursdays with the Author

Question: How do you put yourself in the villain/monster/antagonist shoes and write it convincingly?

Answer: This is actually one of the harder parts of writing for me. I don't see myself as a bad person and I try my hardest to be kind. So having to think like a 'bad guy' while writing one is very difficult. In my last book, Dark Mountains, I had to write a convincing villain who was physically and emotionally abusive and actually went as far as murder. Have I ever murdered? No. Have I ever physically abused someone? No. Have I ever emotionally abused someone? I sure hope not. But I had to write about a character that made it feel like I had first-hand knowledge. 

The research was the hardest part. I scoured sites on domestic abuse, read posts from murderers and abusers, interviewed victims of violence. Anger, judgement and revenge filled my thoughts when reading perspectives of horrible people. Sympathy, pain and the desire to help and comfort all sprung up in me when speaking to abuse victims. I had to push all those feelings away. I couldn't let them cloud my thoughts when I had to put on the mental shoes of the bad guy. I had to hate, seek revenge, give into psychotic thoughts. I had to be greedy, full of hate and anger. Be driven by unknown demons. 

While I was writing that villain, I had to mentally become him. I sure didn't like it. In Dark Mountains, Jackson Michaels was ugly. Horrible. Dangerous. Scary. And so was I while I wrote it. I almost felt dirty when I was done. Tarnished by the thoughts I had to think and use to create the character.

But then I went back through the book in editing and I read what I wrote and I hated him. Which is exactly what I wanted the reader to do. By the end of the book, as the villain finally got what was coming to him, I rejoiced. As did the readers that have reviewed my book so far. My villain was hated and despised enough for some readers to actually cheer for his demise. I had to go to some ugly places in my head to create him but he made the reader feel and that is the whole point. 

In my next book, Irish Strength, the major villain is an actual monster. An ancient race of Celtic gods coming back for revenge after thousands of years of silence. The things this monster does during the course of The Irish Treasures Saga, makes my last villain look like a playground bully. 

Researching a mythical monster is much harder. There are no interviews with victims, no first-hand accounts to go by. I did a lot of research on myths, movie monsters, etc. But all of those reasons that make research harder, makes the actual writing easier. Since monsters are myth, fantasy, completely fiction, I can have a lot more creative license. Since I have no first-hand accounts, I can make my monsters truly terrifying without feeling the guilt or sorrow when writing about real-life events. Of course, the effect on my characters and their reactions has to be realistic, regardless of the extremes the monster goes to.

Another kind of villain or antagonist are the ones who are a main character in the story. They can even end up being the hero or heroine. These bad guys/girls can be pretty bad at times but the key to writing them, especially in romance, is that they are redeemable. 

Readers see this a lot in historical romance: rakes being reformed, arrogant lords being humbled, bandits earning respectability, overly macho Scotsmen finding sensitivity. All of these characters start out making the reader annoyed. They think: Yeah he sounds gorgeous but what an ass!

Then by the end of the story the bad boy is tamed and love conquers all. That may sound cliche but if you make your bad guys deep and their redemption even deeper, the reader doesn't see a cliche. The reader sees a hero. 

Of all the different types of villains you can write about, all of them have to be special to your novel. They can't be simple, stupid, easily defeated. They have to be complex, chilling, not easily overcome. What makes the villain tick? What are the reasons behind the bad behavior? For human villains, there's usually always a reason. Even psychotic killers get pushed in that direction by something. 

Don't be afraid to let your mental dark side out of the cage when writing bad guys. Just remember that the reader has to connect to the characters, even the villains. That doesn't mean they will like every character. They may hate the character. But they connected enough to care and that's what matters.