While writing The Ravenous Dead, I got to thinking about how there are all sorts of bad guys in the world of fiction – and the bulk of them are so rotten they deserve to be shoved off a cliff into the waiting jaws of an alligator with a slow style of chewing. The group left standing on the cliff, however, tend to make us question our need to shove first, and ask questions later. These delinquents can be broken down into two sub groups we’ll call the Redeemable Rogues and the Heart Breakers.
Heart Breakers are the hardest to read about or watch, and they’re definitely the toughest to write. These are the villains who were once dragged kicking and screaming into the darkness they now serve. It takes a while for us to figure this out, though, because these characters are just so damn good at being bad. Or at the very least, they’re terrifyingly effective at applying their craft. Once we know these characters’ origin stories, we want desperately for them to see the light and shed their shadowy skin. But Heart Breakers either can’t, or won’t turn away from their villainous path, and so it feels like a little piece of us goes down with them when they’re eventually vanquished.
The Redeemable Rogues, on the other hand, are my absolute favorite types of villains to both watch and write. These are the guys and gals writers and directors set up as big, bad, sometimes brutal miscreants who deserve to be pushed to the front of the cliff queue. We’re so certain of their rottenness that when the writer/director pulls the rug out from under us and reveals these villains’ true (mostly noble) motivations, we’re left feeling momentarily dazed, and even a little bit guilty. Then we dust ourselves off and rally behind the Rogues as they practically steal the show.
Two Redeemable Rogues I hold close to my heart are Lucien from Underworld, and Gabriel/the Trickster from Supernatural. I won’t go into details just in case someone hasn’t seen Underworld or is behind on their Supernatural, but these characters taught me heaps about making an attempt to withhold judgement…and the power of a damn good story twist.
Do you have a favorite villain that falls into one of these categories? And what is it about their back story (or their current behavior) that would earn them a reprieve from the cliff and the alligator?
This time the dead are hungry…
Rachel Miller doesn’t just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.
A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel’s mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half-vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she’ll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?
Born in South Africa, Natasha moved to Canada in her 20s and settled just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. This meant she was surrounded by an abundance of amazing natural beauty, interesting people from around the world to talk to and a fair bit of rain (which, oddly enough, she rather enjoys). She’s always up for a good adventure, especially if it involves ‘stumbling upon’ movie or TV shoots, hunting for G1 My Little Ponies at local thrift shops, meandering through book and toy stores, or looking into paranormal phenomena.