When one of my books calls for a villain, I always feel a touch of glee. Villains are fun to write, especially the truly evil, dastardly, over the top kind. They can do and say truly outrageous, terrible things. I get a lot of vicarious satisfaction in having my characters defeat them.
Such was the case with the terrible General Dietrich in my WW2 romantic suspense FLAWLESS. Dietrich is the sadistic Nazi commander who has stolen the valuable blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, and is trying to trade it for war materials that could kill many Allied soldiers. Hunter and Madeleine must steal the diamond back. Keeping her out of Dietrich’s clutches forces Hunter and Madeleine together. I won’t give away the ending, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed giving the bad guys what they deserved!
Another truly evil villain I had a lot of fun with was Mr. Gardiner in BURNING LOVE. Gardiner was a landlord/property developer who cheated Riley’s aging great aunt and uncle out of their home, and Riley out of his inheritance. I enjoyed Gardiner’s comeuppance; the police and the IRS were made aware of his shady business deals. Nothing scares a villain more than the IRS. Just ask Al Capone.
Speaking of fun, talk-show hostess Jessica in THE GIRL MOST LIKELY is a self-involved villain who enjoys making Cara’s life miserable, just because. When Jessica has an accident – she’s trying to read a book while driving – Cara fills in for her as host of the show and eventually gets the job permanently. But sometimes you can’t keep a good villain down. Jessica gets a new and better job in Los Angeles!
Occasionally a story calls for a more subtle villain. In my small-town romance FIRST AND AGAIN, Tina Wilson was Bridget’s nemesis back in high school. When circumstances force Bridget to return to her small hometown in North Dakota, Tina takes great delight in humiliating her on her very first night in town. But Tina is not who she first appears to be. No one is more surprised than Bridget when Tina turns into an ally.
In HOME FIRES, which is set in Canada just after World War Two, Erik believes his younger brother Anders is his enemy. Their late father always preferred Anders over him. Anders made it through the war without a scratch while he was badly wounded and scarred. And now Anders has abandoned Anne, his beautiful English fiancée, leaving Erik to clean up his mess. But Anders is just as much a victim of war as Erik and Anne; sometimes a person’s scars are on the inside.
That’s the thing about villains; one size does not fit all. Their reasons for being bad are wide and ranging. Sometimes a villain must simply be defeated, like my Nazi General Dietrich. But life is not always so black and white. There are times when a villain is not who he seems to be at first glance, and there are good reasons for his bad behavior. When a villain redeems himself, it’s a totally satisfying triumph over evil.
Who are your favorite literary, movie or TV villains? Do you like villains who are purely evil, or are you intrigued by more complex villains?
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Title: FIRST AND AGAIN
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Published: October 7, 2013
Genre: Contemporary romance
Word Count: 87,000 words
Bridget Grant is back in Paradise. Paradise, North Dakota, that is.
She’s swallowed her pride and moved back to her hometown with her daughter after her divorce and the loss of her catering company. Now she’s trying to navigate the strained relationships she’d left behind – including her first love, Jack Davison.
Jack never forgot Bridget, or the day she left town – and him. When Bridget caters a lunch at Jack’s tourist ranch, old flames reignite. They have more in common than ever – Jack’s also a single parent. Though they both try to keep things casual, Bridget, Jack and their girls are starting to look a lot like a family.
But Bridget’s only planning to stay in Paradise until she’s saved enough to relaunch her business. Jack’s invested too much in his ranch to leave. And with their daughters involved both have a lot more at stake than heartbreak. How can they risk falling in love?
“So why did you leave your catering company?”
“Tina, maybe Bridget doesn’t want to talk about it,” Celia said, a note of warning in her voice.
Tina had always had a knack for finding her weak spots and going straight for the jugular. Bridget’s only hope was to show no fear.
“That’s okay, Celia,” she said. She turned to Tina with what she hoped was a composed expression on her face. “The business went under.”
“Really? What a shame. What went wrong?”
The massive lawsuit might have had something to do with it. “It was probably the downturn in the economy.”
“That’s too bad. And I understand your husband left you after that.”
Her heart dropped into her stomach. She lifted her eyes to Tina’s and in that moment she hated the woman. Though Tina’s face was the picture of innocent inquiry, the predatory gleam in her eyes revealed the enjoyment she took in asking these humiliating questions.
“It was an amicable split.”
“But to leave you without any money and then to take up with a younger woman. Well, that’s just too much.”
She heard her sister’s sharp intake of breath before an embarrassed hush fell over the group.
“Knock it off, Tina,” Jack said.
Tina gave him an indignant glare. “I was just trying to express my sympathy for Bridget’s situation.”
He didn’t look convinced. “Sympathy, my ass.”
Gavin coughed self-consciously. He and the others at the table appeared uncomfortable, but she was past caring about anyone else’s discomfort. Anger welled up inside her, anger at Tina, at Celia, at Ben, at the world in general.
“It’s okay, Jack. Tina’s right. My husband did dump me for a younger woman. But hey, my life’s an open book. Maybe there are other details of my personal life you’d like to discuss. Perhaps you want to know my bra size or maybe my bank account balance, though I’ve got to warn you, neither is very big. Go ahead, ask me anything.”
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.
In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com
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