After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.
Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.
Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.
Take it away JC …
A good story must have more than just a likeable hero we all want to root for. For me, an intriguing villain is just as important, someone to really challenge the protagonist, to give the hero a run for their money. Alongside literary heroes like Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Rebus and Hercule Poirot, the names of some fictional villains live on in infamy: Hannibal Lecter, Professor Moriarty, and Tom Ripley, to name but a few.
So how does one write an antagonist everyone will love to hate? The secret is striking a fine balance between the following factors:
Give your villain a story
What made your bad guy? Is it nature or nurture? What experiences in their lives were the turning points that made them who they are?
Giving your villain a back story will make them more three-dimensional, and a sad or traumatic past could help readers sympathise with the antagonist, even if they may not agree with their methods of coping. Understanding what makes them tick can make a villain all the more creepy, especially if those factors are common real life issues in society: domestic abuse, drugs, gang crimes, etc.
Give your villain quirks
Does your villain undergo a ritual before every evil deed? Are they insanely superstitious, or profoundly logical in their reasoning? Is he a charming ladies’ man, an everyman, or an intellectual genius?
Just as you give your protagonist quirks to make them more ‘real’, giving your villain quirks will make him seem more a real threat than an anonymous evil.
Give your villain some redeeming (but not too redeeming!) qualities
Does your villain draw the line at harming children? Do they have a soft spot for animals? Or are their evil deeds underlined by noble intentions, no matter how warped and twisted?
Partly redeeming qualities makes your villain more human, and although it may not justify their actions, it at least makes them that bit more relatable.
Readers are no longer satisfied with cardboard cut-out villains like the troll under the bridge. Why is the Evil Stepmother evil? What made the Big Bad Wolf bad? Answering these questions will raise your bad guy above the one-dimensional villains of old fairy tales past, and add layers to a compelling, if contemptible, character.
Who is YOUR favourite literary villain? What makes him/her compelling?
With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn’t need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they’ve got one anyway.
Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter’s disability.
Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.
One of whom could be his own daughter.
Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer’s only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.
Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble
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In celebration of Christine Rains highly anticipated release of Fearless this week, she asked us to join in the fun with a blogfest. She asks: What’s Your Childhood Monster?
As a kid I was terrified of those big blue mailboxes at the street corners. I’ve always had a tendency to be a night owl. So to get me to come in without a fuss when I was a wee tot, about three, my father told me that the mailboxes came alive at sundown and ate small children. I would not go near the things for quite some time.
What about you? What did you fear when you were a kid?