How to Recognize a Villainby Jane Nickerson
Most genres of books need a good villain of one type or another for conflict. The types of scoundrels are many and varied, ranging from Evil personified, such as Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, to the weak, stupid thug who is being used by someone else. When conjuring up the bad guy, a writer must choose which type of villain best suits the story.
In writing Strands of Bronze and Gold, I had to decide what sort of man Blue Beard/M. Bernard should be. The fairy tale revealed only that he was rich and had murdered several wives. So…I considered womanizers, abusive husbands, and psychopaths—some of whom I have met, others about whom I have read.
In general, womanizers can either be charming in a smarmy, salesman-type way, or they can just seem like really nice guys who are fun to talk to. Both styles are charismatic, attentive, interesting, witty, and flirtatious.
Abusive men start out attractive, which is how they hook their prey, but they push too far, too fast. They want undivided attention and isolate their victim. They urge the victim to do things that make her uneasy. They must always be in charge and can’t take criticism. They’re jealous and blame others for anything that goes wrong. They have extreme, unpredictable highs and lows, along with a nasty temper.
A psychopath is superficially charming, and has a grandiose idea of himself. He is cunning, easily bored, and has no sense of remorse. He won’t accept responsibility for his actions and he has no empathy for others, using them for his own gain. He has many short-term marital relationships.
The first quality all three possess is that they can be fascinating when they choose to be. This is what makes them so dangerous. I tried to weave these characteristics into M. Bernard. The fact that he is also powerful, wealthy, and handsome makes him even more perilous to deal with.
I then added one other thing to give M. Bernard depth. I gave him a couple of weaknesses. Chinks in his armor. He likes children and was grief-stricken when his son died in a terrible way. He truly does start out caring for the women, and he truly is hurt when they disappoint him. (Although, being human, they are bound to disappoint in some way eventually, and he really takes it to heart!) Finally, he is sometimes bewildered and confused by the ghastly things he has done in his past.
No wonder Sophie (the heroine of Strands) fell under M. Bernard’s spell at first and that she stayed as long as she did. Combine M. Bernard’s qualities with the fact that Sophie was underage, poor, and a female in 1855, and she really was in a desperate situation.
Therefore, Dear Reader, be warned—if you meet a man with the aforementioned characteristics, recognize him for what he silently tells you he is. Run fast and run far. You can know without a doubt that he is—drumroll—A Villain.
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .Buy the book: Amazon
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
Mark on Goodreads
3rd Top Ten Fashions @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
4th Guest Blog @ The Midnight Garden
5th Top Ten @ Stories & Sweeties
6th Guest Blog @ ReadingTeen
7th Interview @ Kelsey Sutton
8th Top Ten @ Chapter By Chapter
9th Interview @ Icey Books
a Rafflecopter giveaway