Creating the Villain
People sometimes ask me, “Hey (fill in varying expletives), how can you write such sick and twisted crap? What the hell is wrong with you?” Though the spit in my face is probably not warranted, the questions do cause some inward reflection.
I suppose normal people would want to distance themselves from the terrible villains we see in horror literature. While we are fascinated by Hannibal Lecter, does anyone really want to eat a census taker’s liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti? Well, maybe…
As a writer—and I suppose this is somewhat like method acting—I try to wear the shoes of my villains, even if those villains need four pairs, as in my first novel, What Hides Within. It’s easy to do that when the villain is entirely a product of a deviant mind, the lingering effect of a fading nightmare, or some incarnation of all those many things we imagine go bump in the night.
Wildly imaginative and wonderfully horrific creatures with fangs and talons, otherworldly motives, or evil in their roots are not real, not human, or at least, not human anymore.
But in Seeing Evil, my latest novel, the primary villain is human. What makes him so terrible is that he’s so conceivably real. Turn on the news and see the worst in humanity: parents drowning their children, men kidnapping girls and chaining them in their basements, murderers, rapists—people that make you wonder how babies could grow up so wrong and make you wish for a return to the times of Hammurabi’s code.
It is my belief that to create the villain, one must become the villain. And by that, I don’t mean he should walk down Main Street, USA, with a hatchet, mutilating left-handed street musicians. A writer needs to think like the character he is writing, use the words he’d use, follow the logic, if any, that runs through a diseased brain. The writer must enter a dark place, a terrible reality that is more than the admission, “if I were him, this is what I’d do,” but “I am him, this is what I will do.”
Here, character development is key. Sure, a villain may kill because he is insane, but that tells the reader nothing about the villain’s motivation. His actions appear random, and though the action may be fun to write, it won’t be memorable.
In what way is the villain insane? He doesn’t see himself as insane. What compels him to do what he does? A sadist hurts others because he experiences exhilaration, joy, feelings of power and maybe even arousal when inflicting pain on others. Show the joy he feels, show him taking delight in the pain, savoring it—show it by living out each word on the page (in your mind!) as if you were the sadist and write the scene from his/your perspective, as the animal you’ve become.
In Seeing Evil, the villain is a father figure, an awful human being, and dreadfully true to life. These are the worst monsters, the real ones. And it trembles my soul to know that this one was born from me.
THREE ECOPIES and TWO SIGNED PRINT COPIES of Jason Parent’s recent release SEEING EVIL!!! Print copies winners are limited to U.S. and Canada!
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In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.
When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.
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Fate in plain sight.
Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.
In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?
Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.