Loretta on Villains

   Loretta_5_7    From Loretta
      
      A couple of Wenchlings asked questions about villains.  Nina asked if it was possible to redeem a villain in another book.  Wendy mentioned a discussion about villains on Running With Quills–Villains:  Are they necessary?  When I investigated, it seemed they were talking more about evil and its role in a story–but do check it out:
      http://www.runningwithquills.com/2006_08_01_archive.html
      Still, “Are they necessary?” is an excellent question.
      
      Let me start by saying that my favorite villains were on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon shows and spin-offs.  Moose and Squirrel were constantly menaced by the hilariously incompetent duo, Boris and Natasha.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Badenov
      Dudley Do-Right–who eventually had his own show–had the delicious Snidely Whiplash.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snidely_Whiplash
      
      Since I was practically born a writer, any and all villains, from the Big Bad Wolf to cartoon and comic book characters, went up into that imagination attic of mine.
      By the time I started writing my first romances, I knew it was futile to attempt to achieve the perfection of Boris, Natasha, and Snidely, so I didn’t.
      I simply tried to make the bad guy interesting–though on occasion I merely made him disgusting.
      What’s great about Boris, Natasha, and Snidely is that, even though they’re two dimensional, they’ve got nuances.  Well, not very subtle ones.  But the evil is alloyed with something, usually something ridiculous.  Or even a little poignant.  But even  as a kid, I noticed that they were a lot more interesting than the Big Bad Wolf or the witch in various other fairy tales.  There’s was a little more to them than straight out Evil.
      And that’s the key to redeeming a villain and making him a hero in another book:  There has to be more to him than straight out Bad.  There has to be some redeeming quality.  Oh, and it does help if he’s gorgeous.
      My most recent reissue, CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT, redeems the villain of THE LION’S DAUGHTER.The_lions_daughter_a
            Ismal (later Esmond) is an example of a character who haunted my imagination as soon as I put him on the page.  Still, starting out, I did not intend to make Ismal a hero of another book.  I had planned to make a very dangerous man, certainly.  I knew he’d be a complex villain, too:  As soon as he appeared on the page (and yes, I was writing the movie scene playing in my brain, Wendy) he intrigued me.  Still, he was going to be a tough case for redemption and I wasn’t sure my writing skills at that point were up to it.  I poisoned him, broke his hand, beat his head on a pier, and shot him.
      He wouldn’t die.  So really, there wasn’t much choice.  I kept him and made him the hero of CAPTIVES.  This resulted in the only Albanian hero of a historical romance (at least, I haven’t heard of any others).Captives_a
      Hmm.  Come to think of it, both my Albania-set books have resulted in villains-turned-into heroes.  Basil, the villain of my very first Regency, became the reluctant hero of THE ENGLISH WITCH.  Maybe that was my “practice” book for CAPTIVES?  In both cases, the villain redeemed himself in part by doing dirty work for the government.  And also by being gorgeous.
      Oddly enough, the hero of LORD PERFECT was another character who wasn’t supposed to have a book.  When I began the series, I had settled the two eldest Carsington sons with wives, and planned a trilogy dealing with the three youngest.  But Benedict, like Ismal, intrigued me.  As soon as he walked onto the stage at the end of MR. IMPOSSIBLE, my writer instinct (a little sharper now, with experience) told me he was coming next–and I said so at the end of that book.
      I mention LORD PERFECT not only in the interests of shameless self-promotion but as an example of a book that doesn’t have a villain.  If there’s any villain in that story, it’s an abstraction or a combination of abstractions:  Society and Duty in their more oppressive incarnations.
      One of the reasons for putting a villain into a romance is to create danger and conflict.  He (or she–let’s not forget Natasha) is a shadow hanging over the hero and heroine.  But if you have a powerful threat hanging over them–like social ostracism–and/or deep conflict between them, an actual bad guy may not be necessary.
      What makes a good villain?  I guess one would answer that question the same way one would answer What makes a good hero?  It’s in the eye of the beholder.  In my reading, I tend to like villains with some depth and complexity.  Or, if their wickedness is straightforward, I like them to not be obvious about it.  This is why I think Mr. Tulkinghorn of BLEAK HOUSE is a great villain:  He’s ordinary, old-fashioned, and sort of fades into the woodwork.  Though in the recent BBC version Charles Dance did not remotely resemble outwardly the character in the book, he communicated what that character was about.  He had a wonderful, quietly and coldly menacing presence. He was brilliant, but then he’s always brilliant.
      I think Ralph Nickleby of NICHOLAS NICKLEBY is another fascinating villain.  You catch a glimpse of humanity there, which raises him above the usual Victorian melodrama villain.  (I have not yet seen the version with Charles Dance, but expect he’s wonderful in that, too.)
      In my current story, NOT QUITE A LADY, the villain is an officer who’s fought bravely for his country, who is determined to have what he
wants–the heroine–and has to decide how far he’ll go.  In his case, the very qualities that made him successful in his profession turn out to have a sour side in civilian life.
      I love villains.  Certainly, I believe we writers have more leeway in creating them than we do in creating our heroes and heroines.  I don’t know about the other Wenches but I think it’s trickier to create interesting good characters than interesting evil ones.  You’ve got a lot more room to explore with a villain.  Maybe that’s why we love our bad boy heroes so much.
      But what do you think?  What’s your favorite kind of villain, if you have a favorite kind?  Who’s your favorite villain?  In your reading, have you encountered any villains you wish were turned into heroes?

75 thoughts on “Loretta on Villains”

  1. >>>” And that’s the key to redeeming a villain and making him a hero in another book: There has to be more to him than straight out Bad.”
    Hello Loretta!
    Thank you for answering my question about villains. I can really relate to the Boris and Natasha examples.
    Villains are really tough for me–as a reader and a writer.
    As a reader, I like the ‘non-existent’ villain. For example, MJ’s KOF. There were many different ‘villains’ in the book. The war. The opposed views between husband (hero) and wife (heroine), society and the heroine’s own sense of integrity. In being true to herself, she, in some ways, became the villain by imprisoning the hero. He was none too happy. But, unless done really, really well, (as MJ did) such a ‘non-existent villain’ can come off (IMHO) as trite, leaving the plot flat.
    As a writer, I don’t see how the ‘non-existent villain’ could be carried on in a series. I think the villain needs a face. Anyone have some book suggestions to the contrary? (series or trilogies, please, doesn’t have to be romance)
    The gorgeous, drop dead, villains… for me, as a reader, they are easy to love. You just may not want to live with them. But giving into their charms, well… even a good girl imagines being bad once in a while. Makes for a spicy plot.
    As a writer, creating a hunky villain is hard. (Unless they are pure evil, as you said Loretta. Then I just love to hate them) If the villain has even a drop of redeeming value, I tend to fall for him, and so does my heroine. I’ve already converted one for her. Man, he’s gorgeous. Oh, my! She gave him her heart by chapter two of the first draft and I threw out the outline. Ahh, well… she’s happy (or will be.) This man has some growing to do. That’s another story.
    But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?
    –the littlest wenchling, loving Word Wenches.
    P.S. Do you like to see more, or less of the villain? Is it important to you to know what he or she is up to?

    Reply
  2. >>>” And that’s the key to redeeming a villain and making him a hero in another book: There has to be more to him than straight out Bad.”
    Hello Loretta!
    Thank you for answering my question about villains. I can really relate to the Boris and Natasha examples.
    Villains are really tough for me–as a reader and a writer.
    As a reader, I like the ‘non-existent’ villain. For example, MJ’s KOF. There were many different ‘villains’ in the book. The war. The opposed views between husband (hero) and wife (heroine), society and the heroine’s own sense of integrity. In being true to herself, she, in some ways, became the villain by imprisoning the hero. He was none too happy. But, unless done really, really well, (as MJ did) such a ‘non-existent villain’ can come off (IMHO) as trite, leaving the plot flat.
    As a writer, I don’t see how the ‘non-existent villain’ could be carried on in a series. I think the villain needs a face. Anyone have some book suggestions to the contrary? (series or trilogies, please, doesn’t have to be romance)
    The gorgeous, drop dead, villains… for me, as a reader, they are easy to love. You just may not want to live with them. But giving into their charms, well… even a good girl imagines being bad once in a while. Makes for a spicy plot.
    As a writer, creating a hunky villain is hard. (Unless they are pure evil, as you said Loretta. Then I just love to hate them) If the villain has even a drop of redeeming value, I tend to fall for him, and so does my heroine. I’ve already converted one for her. Man, he’s gorgeous. Oh, my! She gave him her heart by chapter two of the first draft and I threw out the outline. Ahh, well… she’s happy (or will be.) This man has some growing to do. That’s another story.
    But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?
    –the littlest wenchling, loving Word Wenches.
    P.S. Do you like to see more, or less of the villain? Is it important to you to know what he or she is up to?

    Reply
  3. >>>” And that’s the key to redeeming a villain and making him a hero in another book: There has to be more to him than straight out Bad.”
    Hello Loretta!
    Thank you for answering my question about villains. I can really relate to the Boris and Natasha examples.
    Villains are really tough for me–as a reader and a writer.
    As a reader, I like the ‘non-existent’ villain. For example, MJ’s KOF. There were many different ‘villains’ in the book. The war. The opposed views between husband (hero) and wife (heroine), society and the heroine’s own sense of integrity. In being true to herself, she, in some ways, became the villain by imprisoning the hero. He was none too happy. But, unless done really, really well, (as MJ did) such a ‘non-existent villain’ can come off (IMHO) as trite, leaving the plot flat.
    As a writer, I don’t see how the ‘non-existent villain’ could be carried on in a series. I think the villain needs a face. Anyone have some book suggestions to the contrary? (series or trilogies, please, doesn’t have to be romance)
    The gorgeous, drop dead, villains… for me, as a reader, they are easy to love. You just may not want to live with them. But giving into their charms, well… even a good girl imagines being bad once in a while. Makes for a spicy plot.
    As a writer, creating a hunky villain is hard. (Unless they are pure evil, as you said Loretta. Then I just love to hate them) If the villain has even a drop of redeeming value, I tend to fall for him, and so does my heroine. I’ve already converted one for her. Man, he’s gorgeous. Oh, my! She gave him her heart by chapter two of the first draft and I threw out the outline. Ahh, well… she’s happy (or will be.) This man has some growing to do. That’s another story.
    But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?
    –the littlest wenchling, loving Word Wenches.
    P.S. Do you like to see more, or less of the villain? Is it important to you to know what he or she is up to?

    Reply
  4. Loretta, your Albanian books with the villains-turned-heroes are both masterpieces of this type. And Esmond made for one of the sexiest-all-times heroes. Just thinking of him makes me want to grab for the virtual fan we gave Candice!
    I also agree with your thesis that it’s essential to show something positive in the villain if he’s to have a heroic future. In my own version of this, Reggie from The Diabolical Baron, who went on to star in The Rake and The Reformer, showed an unexpected touch of humor and gallantry in his last scene of TDB. He immediately became interesting. 🙂 When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita.
    As to changing bad girls to heroines: Jo Manning, who wrote several small press Regencies, did this in one (whose name escapes me at the moment, but it was quite a book!)
    Also, in my second Regency, LADY OF FORTUNE, I had a baddish girl who was rich and selfish and bent on ensnaring the hero for his title. I didn’t exactly make her a heroine, but I did pair her off with a guy whose selfishness and shallowness were a good match for her. In their own way, they would have a happy future. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. Loretta, your Albanian books with the villains-turned-heroes are both masterpieces of this type. And Esmond made for one of the sexiest-all-times heroes. Just thinking of him makes me want to grab for the virtual fan we gave Candice!
    I also agree with your thesis that it’s essential to show something positive in the villain if he’s to have a heroic future. In my own version of this, Reggie from The Diabolical Baron, who went on to star in The Rake and The Reformer, showed an unexpected touch of humor and gallantry in his last scene of TDB. He immediately became interesting. 🙂 When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita.
    As to changing bad girls to heroines: Jo Manning, who wrote several small press Regencies, did this in one (whose name escapes me at the moment, but it was quite a book!)
    Also, in my second Regency, LADY OF FORTUNE, I had a baddish girl who was rich and selfish and bent on ensnaring the hero for his title. I didn’t exactly make her a heroine, but I did pair her off with a guy whose selfishness and shallowness were a good match for her. In their own way, they would have a happy future. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  6. Loretta, your Albanian books with the villains-turned-heroes are both masterpieces of this type. And Esmond made for one of the sexiest-all-times heroes. Just thinking of him makes me want to grab for the virtual fan we gave Candice!
    I also agree with your thesis that it’s essential to show something positive in the villain if he’s to have a heroic future. In my own version of this, Reggie from The Diabolical Baron, who went on to star in The Rake and The Reformer, showed an unexpected touch of humor and gallantry in his last scene of TDB. He immediately became interesting. 🙂 When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita.
    As to changing bad girls to heroines: Jo Manning, who wrote several small press Regencies, did this in one (whose name escapes me at the moment, but it was quite a book!)
    Also, in my second Regency, LADY OF FORTUNE, I had a baddish girl who was rich and selfish and bent on ensnaring the hero for his title. I didn’t exactly make her a heroine, but I did pair her off with a guy whose selfishness and shallowness were a good match for her. In their own way, they would have a happy future. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  7. Mary Jo said…”When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita. ”
    Gotta love those bad boys!
    Thank’s, MJ, for the tip on LADY OF FORTUNE. I’m off to it.
    If you remember the title of Jo Manning’s book, let me know.
    🙂

    Reply
  8. Mary Jo said…”When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita. ”
    Gotta love those bad boys!
    Thank’s, MJ, for the tip on LADY OF FORTUNE. I’m off to it.
    If you remember the title of Jo Manning’s book, let me know.
    🙂

    Reply
  9. Mary Jo said…”When I realized that his bad behavior always came when he’d been drinking, I had a plot, a theme, and eventually a Rita. ”
    Gotta love those bad boys!
    Thank’s, MJ, for the tip on LADY OF FORTUNE. I’m off to it.
    If you remember the title of Jo Manning’s book, let me know.
    🙂

    Reply
  10. I love a redemption story, and when the character arc covers more than one book, so much the better. Loretta, I love both the Albanian books, and, Mary Jo, Reggie Davenport is one of my top ten all-time romance heroes. I suppose Fort Ware is never exactly a villain, but he is a flawed character who becomes the hero of Jo’s Something Wicked. Edith’s To Wed a Stranger is one of my favorite books, and while Lady Annabelle Wylde is no villain in The Chance, she certainly does not appear to be suitable heroine material.
    Some non-Wench notable redemptions include Carla Kelly’s Benedict Nesbitt, a deeply flawed man in Libby’s London Merchant, who becomes a wonderful hero in One Good Turn; Mary Balogh’s Lord Edmond Waite, villain of The Trysting Place, who becomes the hero of The Notorious Rake; and Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, an amoral villain in Lisa Kleypas’s It Happened One Autumn, who becomes the hero of Devil In Winter. I know Eloisa James’s fans (I among them) are eagerly anticipating the full redemption of Garrett Langham, Earl of Mayne, a process that has covered four books already and which will culminate in Pleasure for Pleasure.

    Reply
  11. I love a redemption story, and when the character arc covers more than one book, so much the better. Loretta, I love both the Albanian books, and, Mary Jo, Reggie Davenport is one of my top ten all-time romance heroes. I suppose Fort Ware is never exactly a villain, but he is a flawed character who becomes the hero of Jo’s Something Wicked. Edith’s To Wed a Stranger is one of my favorite books, and while Lady Annabelle Wylde is no villain in The Chance, she certainly does not appear to be suitable heroine material.
    Some non-Wench notable redemptions include Carla Kelly’s Benedict Nesbitt, a deeply flawed man in Libby’s London Merchant, who becomes a wonderful hero in One Good Turn; Mary Balogh’s Lord Edmond Waite, villain of The Trysting Place, who becomes the hero of The Notorious Rake; and Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, an amoral villain in Lisa Kleypas’s It Happened One Autumn, who becomes the hero of Devil In Winter. I know Eloisa James’s fans (I among them) are eagerly anticipating the full redemption of Garrett Langham, Earl of Mayne, a process that has covered four books already and which will culminate in Pleasure for Pleasure.

    Reply
  12. I love a redemption story, and when the character arc covers more than one book, so much the better. Loretta, I love both the Albanian books, and, Mary Jo, Reggie Davenport is one of my top ten all-time romance heroes. I suppose Fort Ware is never exactly a villain, but he is a flawed character who becomes the hero of Jo’s Something Wicked. Edith’s To Wed a Stranger is one of my favorite books, and while Lady Annabelle Wylde is no villain in The Chance, she certainly does not appear to be suitable heroine material.
    Some non-Wench notable redemptions include Carla Kelly’s Benedict Nesbitt, a deeply flawed man in Libby’s London Merchant, who becomes a wonderful hero in One Good Turn; Mary Balogh’s Lord Edmond Waite, villain of The Trysting Place, who becomes the hero of The Notorious Rake; and Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, an amoral villain in Lisa Kleypas’s It Happened One Autumn, who becomes the hero of Devil In Winter. I know Eloisa James’s fans (I among them) are eagerly anticipating the full redemption of Garrett Langham, Earl of Mayne, a process that has covered four books already and which will culminate in Pleasure for Pleasure.

    Reply
  13. Loretta – My first villain ever became my first hero ever, in the same book. Of course, it was my first book ever: THE DUKE’S WAGER. Whereupon my second villain then became my second hero in the sequel: THE DISDAINFUL MARQUIS.
    And I keep doing it when needed.
    best,
    Edith, who believes in redemption, and anyhow, villains have SO many possibities… in fiction.

    Reply
  14. Loretta – My first villain ever became my first hero ever, in the same book. Of course, it was my first book ever: THE DUKE’S WAGER. Whereupon my second villain then became my second hero in the sequel: THE DISDAINFUL MARQUIS.
    And I keep doing it when needed.
    best,
    Edith, who believes in redemption, and anyhow, villains have SO many possibities… in fiction.

    Reply
  15. Loretta – My first villain ever became my first hero ever, in the same book. Of course, it was my first book ever: THE DUKE’S WAGER. Whereupon my second villain then became my second hero in the sequel: THE DISDAINFUL MARQUIS.
    And I keep doing it when needed.
    best,
    Edith, who believes in redemption, and anyhow, villains have SO many possibities… in fiction.

    Reply
  16. Very good post, and excellent comments. I think a book needs an antagonist–either a specific person, or perhaps, as suggested, Society or Conventional Morality.
    Incidentally, it has been suggested to me that some people have found some of my comments insulting. I have no intention of being rude to anyone; and I don’t know what comments are meant; but I wish to apologize to anyone whom I have inadvertently offended.

    Reply
  17. Very good post, and excellent comments. I think a book needs an antagonist–either a specific person, or perhaps, as suggested, Society or Conventional Morality.
    Incidentally, it has been suggested to me that some people have found some of my comments insulting. I have no intention of being rude to anyone; and I don’t know what comments are meant; but I wish to apologize to anyone whom I have inadvertently offended.

    Reply
  18. Very good post, and excellent comments. I think a book needs an antagonist–either a specific person, or perhaps, as suggested, Society or Conventional Morality.
    Incidentally, it has been suggested to me that some people have found some of my comments insulting. I have no intention of being rude to anyone; and I don’t know what comments are meant; but I wish to apologize to anyone whom I have inadvertently offended.

    Reply
  19. From MJP:
    Nina, my early book LADY OF FORTUNE has been out of print for many years and used copies tend to be pricey, but it’s going to be coming out in a large print edition in December. (I think it’s December.) I’m glad it will be available again for completists.
    The Jo Manning book where the heroine is the rakish reformed character is SEDUCING MR. HEYWOOD. It originally came out in a small press hardcover, and then was reprinted as Signet Regency last year. It seems to be still available.
    Jo Manning also wrote a good Geogrian/Regency research book. MY LADY SCANDALOUS is a biography of a Scottish born courtesan, with tons of really good research material in it. (Jo used to be a research librarian, which helps!)
    Tal, I’d agree that some kind of antagonist, whether human or societal, is necessary to create conflict. One of the brilliancies of Loretta’s LORD PERFECT is how the story is so gripping without having anything like a standard villains. (A nice thing about writing historicals is that it’s easier to come up with societal conflicts!)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  20. From MJP:
    Nina, my early book LADY OF FORTUNE has been out of print for many years and used copies tend to be pricey, but it’s going to be coming out in a large print edition in December. (I think it’s December.) I’m glad it will be available again for completists.
    The Jo Manning book where the heroine is the rakish reformed character is SEDUCING MR. HEYWOOD. It originally came out in a small press hardcover, and then was reprinted as Signet Regency last year. It seems to be still available.
    Jo Manning also wrote a good Geogrian/Regency research book. MY LADY SCANDALOUS is a biography of a Scottish born courtesan, with tons of really good research material in it. (Jo used to be a research librarian, which helps!)
    Tal, I’d agree that some kind of antagonist, whether human or societal, is necessary to create conflict. One of the brilliancies of Loretta’s LORD PERFECT is how the story is so gripping without having anything like a standard villains. (A nice thing about writing historicals is that it’s easier to come up with societal conflicts!)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  21. From MJP:
    Nina, my early book LADY OF FORTUNE has been out of print for many years and used copies tend to be pricey, but it’s going to be coming out in a large print edition in December. (I think it’s December.) I’m glad it will be available again for completists.
    The Jo Manning book where the heroine is the rakish reformed character is SEDUCING MR. HEYWOOD. It originally came out in a small press hardcover, and then was reprinted as Signet Regency last year. It seems to be still available.
    Jo Manning also wrote a good Geogrian/Regency research book. MY LADY SCANDALOUS is a biography of a Scottish born courtesan, with tons of really good research material in it. (Jo used to be a research librarian, which helps!)
    Tal, I’d agree that some kind of antagonist, whether human or societal, is necessary to create conflict. One of the brilliancies of Loretta’s LORD PERFECT is how the story is so gripping without having anything like a standard villains. (A nice thing about writing historicals is that it’s easier to come up with societal conflicts!)
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  22. To All… Thank you so much for your book suggestions. I will be adding to the top of my TBR pile.
    MJ… you’re not kidding about LADY OF FORTUNE. $13 to $81 used! I’m glad to know it will be re-issued in December (or there abouts) Large print is even better.
    Tal… I have not been offended by any of your comments. I appreciate your voice.
    IMHO, Word Wenches is a wonderful community. A safe haven for readers and writers alike to share ideas, opinions, ask questions and find answers. Three cheers to the Wenches and our Whip!
    Nina
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  23. To All… Thank you so much for your book suggestions. I will be adding to the top of my TBR pile.
    MJ… you’re not kidding about LADY OF FORTUNE. $13 to $81 used! I’m glad to know it will be re-issued in December (or there abouts) Large print is even better.
    Tal… I have not been offended by any of your comments. I appreciate your voice.
    IMHO, Word Wenches is a wonderful community. A safe haven for readers and writers alike to share ideas, opinions, ask questions and find answers. Three cheers to the Wenches and our Whip!
    Nina
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  24. To All… Thank you so much for your book suggestions. I will be adding to the top of my TBR pile.
    MJ… you’re not kidding about LADY OF FORTUNE. $13 to $81 used! I’m glad to know it will be re-issued in December (or there abouts) Large print is even better.
    Tal… I have not been offended by any of your comments. I appreciate your voice.
    IMHO, Word Wenches is a wonderful community. A safe haven for readers and writers alike to share ideas, opinions, ask questions and find answers. Three cheers to the Wenches and our Whip!
    Nina
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  25. Query: How personal should the villainy be? In other words, should someone be out to get the hero or heroine in particular, or should they be the victims of persecution for witchcraft or heresy? One of the reasons I didn’t care for Anne Bishop’s second trilogy was it drew too much on the Burning Times, which I don’t think are the material for recreational fiction–at least I find them too distressing.
    Are there some historical situations where the history itself is just too grim to admit of a romance? Someone on another board mentioned a romance set in Nazi Germany where the hero is an SS officer and the heroine is Jewish, passing as Aryan–I think that would be too much for me. But a hero and heroine falling in love while rescuing people, as in the Leslie Howard film PIMPERNEL SMITH, would work.

    Reply
  26. Query: How personal should the villainy be? In other words, should someone be out to get the hero or heroine in particular, or should they be the victims of persecution for witchcraft or heresy? One of the reasons I didn’t care for Anne Bishop’s second trilogy was it drew too much on the Burning Times, which I don’t think are the material for recreational fiction–at least I find them too distressing.
    Are there some historical situations where the history itself is just too grim to admit of a romance? Someone on another board mentioned a romance set in Nazi Germany where the hero is an SS officer and the heroine is Jewish, passing as Aryan–I think that would be too much for me. But a hero and heroine falling in love while rescuing people, as in the Leslie Howard film PIMPERNEL SMITH, would work.

    Reply
  27. Query: How personal should the villainy be? In other words, should someone be out to get the hero or heroine in particular, or should they be the victims of persecution for witchcraft or heresy? One of the reasons I didn’t care for Anne Bishop’s second trilogy was it drew too much on the Burning Times, which I don’t think are the material for recreational fiction–at least I find them too distressing.
    Are there some historical situations where the history itself is just too grim to admit of a romance? Someone on another board mentioned a romance set in Nazi Germany where the hero is an SS officer and the heroine is Jewish, passing as Aryan–I think that would be too much for me. But a hero and heroine falling in love while rescuing people, as in the Leslie Howard film PIMPERNEL SMITH, would work.

    Reply
  28. I’ve been trying to think of my favorite villians, and all the examples I’ve come up with are from Shakespeare – Iago, Lady MacBeth and Shylock. When I first read Othello in high school, I was completely blown away by Iago – couldn’t believe someone could be so “evil”, manipulative and effective. I just saw Othello performed this fall, and I’ve got to admit that I was not impressed by him. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and wiser. 🙂 A friend of mine had the same reaction to the play as an adult compared to when she was in high school. I just kept thinking Othello and Desdemona were so stupid. Of course, I *knew* what Iago was doing.

    Reply
  29. I’ve been trying to think of my favorite villians, and all the examples I’ve come up with are from Shakespeare – Iago, Lady MacBeth and Shylock. When I first read Othello in high school, I was completely blown away by Iago – couldn’t believe someone could be so “evil”, manipulative and effective. I just saw Othello performed this fall, and I’ve got to admit that I was not impressed by him. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and wiser. 🙂 A friend of mine had the same reaction to the play as an adult compared to when she was in high school. I just kept thinking Othello and Desdemona were so stupid. Of course, I *knew* what Iago was doing.

    Reply
  30. I’ve been trying to think of my favorite villians, and all the examples I’ve come up with are from Shakespeare – Iago, Lady MacBeth and Shylock. When I first read Othello in high school, I was completely blown away by Iago – couldn’t believe someone could be so “evil”, manipulative and effective. I just saw Othello performed this fall, and I’ve got to admit that I was not impressed by him. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and wiser. 🙂 A friend of mine had the same reaction to the play as an adult compared to when she was in high school. I just kept thinking Othello and Desdemona were so stupid. Of course, I *knew* what Iago was doing.

    Reply
  31. Jo here. I don’t think I’ve ever redeemed a villain. My villains, as best I remember, are either truly vile or corrupt because of weakness.
    But it does surprise me what readers want to forgive. I have a character in my Rogues’ series who I designed specifically so there would be one heir to a dukedom in Regencyworld who wasn’t sexy, hero material. But some readers want me to turn him into a hero anyway.
    Even Therese Bellaire, a thoroughly bad sociopath, has her advocates. So what is this need to have deplorable characters turned into jewels? Eternal optimism about human nature? That would be kind of nice, actually. But Uffham is a jerk, jerk, jerk and Therese is dead, dead, dead.::G::
    Jo

    Reply
  32. Jo here. I don’t think I’ve ever redeemed a villain. My villains, as best I remember, are either truly vile or corrupt because of weakness.
    But it does surprise me what readers want to forgive. I have a character in my Rogues’ series who I designed specifically so there would be one heir to a dukedom in Regencyworld who wasn’t sexy, hero material. But some readers want me to turn him into a hero anyway.
    Even Therese Bellaire, a thoroughly bad sociopath, has her advocates. So what is this need to have deplorable characters turned into jewels? Eternal optimism about human nature? That would be kind of nice, actually. But Uffham is a jerk, jerk, jerk and Therese is dead, dead, dead.::G::
    Jo

    Reply
  33. Jo here. I don’t think I’ve ever redeemed a villain. My villains, as best I remember, are either truly vile or corrupt because of weakness.
    But it does surprise me what readers want to forgive. I have a character in my Rogues’ series who I designed specifically so there would be one heir to a dukedom in Regencyworld who wasn’t sexy, hero material. But some readers want me to turn him into a hero anyway.
    Even Therese Bellaire, a thoroughly bad sociopath, has her advocates. So what is this need to have deplorable characters turned into jewels? Eternal optimism about human nature? That would be kind of nice, actually. But Uffham is a jerk, jerk, jerk and Therese is dead, dead, dead.::G::
    Jo

    Reply
  34. Great post, great discussion!
    Redeeming a villain can be a fascinating way to explore character, and while I haven’t entirely redeemed one (yet), I have given some of them contrasting qualities, so that the evil in them fights with the inherent good. That’s more interesting to me than a villain who is all bad, all the time: those can be cardboard yawns, and too predictable.
    One of my favorite villains in my own stuff was the one who helped to save the hero’s life before he died, a last-minute sacrifice, a last-minute ephiphany.
    Another one was pretty thoroughly bad, cartoon-style, though his redeeming quality was that he really did care about the heroine in his way. Anyway I sent him sailing over a cliff with a flock of birds, down into the sea. Very satisfying.
    It’s that yin-yang balance that makes any good character better: a great hero needs more than a touch of badass, a great heroine needs more than a touch of spice.
    One villain who I think really illustrates this concept is Magua in Last of the Mohicans. He’s totally fascinating. Puuuuure evil, we think, until we learn his motivation–his wife and children were killed by the Yeeengleez.
    And then, in that stunning, gorgeous, poignant scene where the sister is about to jump over the cliff… think about that one gesture, where he beckons to her, just beckons. Oh! What a GREAT villain. Cuz he’s still Billy Badass anyway you cut it, but he reveals he has a heart, a soul. And is he redeemable…? WOuld he have been good to her, ultimately, in his way? We’ll never know (cuz she jumped and he got croaked).
    Brilliant, and an example of how a villain adds great depth and richness to a story.
    (And I’m not talking James Fenimore Cooper here, but whoever gussied up the script. I read LOTM more than once but honestly I don’t remember Magua being as great a force there as in the movie.)
    ~Susan, wishing she wasn’t on deadline, that’s one DVD she’d pop in the player real quick

    Reply
  35. Great post, great discussion!
    Redeeming a villain can be a fascinating way to explore character, and while I haven’t entirely redeemed one (yet), I have given some of them contrasting qualities, so that the evil in them fights with the inherent good. That’s more interesting to me than a villain who is all bad, all the time: those can be cardboard yawns, and too predictable.
    One of my favorite villains in my own stuff was the one who helped to save the hero’s life before he died, a last-minute sacrifice, a last-minute ephiphany.
    Another one was pretty thoroughly bad, cartoon-style, though his redeeming quality was that he really did care about the heroine in his way. Anyway I sent him sailing over a cliff with a flock of birds, down into the sea. Very satisfying.
    It’s that yin-yang balance that makes any good character better: a great hero needs more than a touch of badass, a great heroine needs more than a touch of spice.
    One villain who I think really illustrates this concept is Magua in Last of the Mohicans. He’s totally fascinating. Puuuuure evil, we think, until we learn his motivation–his wife and children were killed by the Yeeengleez.
    And then, in that stunning, gorgeous, poignant scene where the sister is about to jump over the cliff… think about that one gesture, where he beckons to her, just beckons. Oh! What a GREAT villain. Cuz he’s still Billy Badass anyway you cut it, but he reveals he has a heart, a soul. And is he redeemable…? WOuld he have been good to her, ultimately, in his way? We’ll never know (cuz she jumped and he got croaked).
    Brilliant, and an example of how a villain adds great depth and richness to a story.
    (And I’m not talking James Fenimore Cooper here, but whoever gussied up the script. I read LOTM more than once but honestly I don’t remember Magua being as great a force there as in the movie.)
    ~Susan, wishing she wasn’t on deadline, that’s one DVD she’d pop in the player real quick

    Reply
  36. Great post, great discussion!
    Redeeming a villain can be a fascinating way to explore character, and while I haven’t entirely redeemed one (yet), I have given some of them contrasting qualities, so that the evil in them fights with the inherent good. That’s more interesting to me than a villain who is all bad, all the time: those can be cardboard yawns, and too predictable.
    One of my favorite villains in my own stuff was the one who helped to save the hero’s life before he died, a last-minute sacrifice, a last-minute ephiphany.
    Another one was pretty thoroughly bad, cartoon-style, though his redeeming quality was that he really did care about the heroine in his way. Anyway I sent him sailing over a cliff with a flock of birds, down into the sea. Very satisfying.
    It’s that yin-yang balance that makes any good character better: a great hero needs more than a touch of badass, a great heroine needs more than a touch of spice.
    One villain who I think really illustrates this concept is Magua in Last of the Mohicans. He’s totally fascinating. Puuuuure evil, we think, until we learn his motivation–his wife and children were killed by the Yeeengleez.
    And then, in that stunning, gorgeous, poignant scene where the sister is about to jump over the cliff… think about that one gesture, where he beckons to her, just beckons. Oh! What a GREAT villain. Cuz he’s still Billy Badass anyway you cut it, but he reveals he has a heart, a soul. And is he redeemable…? WOuld he have been good to her, ultimately, in his way? We’ll never know (cuz she jumped and he got croaked).
    Brilliant, and an example of how a villain adds great depth and richness to a story.
    (And I’m not talking James Fenimore Cooper here, but whoever gussied up the script. I read LOTM more than once but honestly I don’t remember Magua being as great a force there as in the movie.)
    ~Susan, wishing she wasn’t on deadline, that’s one DVD she’d pop in the player real quick

    Reply
  37. Totally off topic, but, Jo, I am so happy that you said Therese Bellaire “is dead, dead, dead.” I am not one of those who ever believed her redeemable. In fact, she made my skin crawl. The Uffham statement made me laugh though since his name came up several times in a recent discussion about secondary characters whose stories people longed for.

    Reply
  38. Totally off topic, but, Jo, I am so happy that you said Therese Bellaire “is dead, dead, dead.” I am not one of those who ever believed her redeemable. In fact, she made my skin crawl. The Uffham statement made me laugh though since his name came up several times in a recent discussion about secondary characters whose stories people longed for.

    Reply
  39. Totally off topic, but, Jo, I am so happy that you said Therese Bellaire “is dead, dead, dead.” I am not one of those who ever believed her redeemable. In fact, she made my skin crawl. The Uffham statement made me laugh though since his name came up several times in a recent discussion about secondary characters whose stories people longed for.

    Reply
  40. Susan Sarah, THANK YOUUUUUUU for your wonderful commentary on Magua! I am firmly in your camp on this. That scene was indeed “stunning, gorgeous, poignant.”
    The beckoning hand gesture alone could have carried that scene (and did), but IIRC (my lamentable memory!), just prior to the beckoning, he did something equally and far more subtly dramatic–he turned the blade of his knife downward, to remove any semblence of threat. After he symbolically disarms himself, he then makes that heart-stopping gesture of beckoning. One of the most dramatic scenes in that movie, IMHO. Magua was portrayed by veteran Cherokee actor, Wes Studi. http://www.thestudigroup.com/
    I also love the situational villain, the person who is generally a decent sort, but placed in the role of villain due to circumstance. He could be a police officer relentlessly pursuing the hero because he is convinced the hero is a serial killer. A reluctant villain, if you will. (Sort of the counterpart to the reluctant hero!)

    Reply
  41. Susan Sarah, THANK YOUUUUUUU for your wonderful commentary on Magua! I am firmly in your camp on this. That scene was indeed “stunning, gorgeous, poignant.”
    The beckoning hand gesture alone could have carried that scene (and did), but IIRC (my lamentable memory!), just prior to the beckoning, he did something equally and far more subtly dramatic–he turned the blade of his knife downward, to remove any semblence of threat. After he symbolically disarms himself, he then makes that heart-stopping gesture of beckoning. One of the most dramatic scenes in that movie, IMHO. Magua was portrayed by veteran Cherokee actor, Wes Studi. http://www.thestudigroup.com/
    I also love the situational villain, the person who is generally a decent sort, but placed in the role of villain due to circumstance. He could be a police officer relentlessly pursuing the hero because he is convinced the hero is a serial killer. A reluctant villain, if you will. (Sort of the counterpart to the reluctant hero!)

    Reply
  42. Susan Sarah, THANK YOUUUUUUU for your wonderful commentary on Magua! I am firmly in your camp on this. That scene was indeed “stunning, gorgeous, poignant.”
    The beckoning hand gesture alone could have carried that scene (and did), but IIRC (my lamentable memory!), just prior to the beckoning, he did something equally and far more subtly dramatic–he turned the blade of his knife downward, to remove any semblence of threat. After he symbolically disarms himself, he then makes that heart-stopping gesture of beckoning. One of the most dramatic scenes in that movie, IMHO. Magua was portrayed by veteran Cherokee actor, Wes Studi. http://www.thestudigroup.com/
    I also love the situational villain, the person who is generally a decent sort, but placed in the role of villain due to circumstance. He could be a police officer relentlessly pursuing the hero because he is convinced the hero is a serial killer. A reluctant villain, if you will. (Sort of the counterpart to the reluctant hero!)

    Reply
  43. Nina, the matter of how much of the villain the story needs is a very good question. It’s tricky, I think. Villains can be so interesting that one is tempted to put in more than the story requires. In a romance, I would try to keep it to a minimum–just enough to create the sense of menace and keep the reader abreast of what he/she’s up to. But the other Wenches can do a better job of discussing villains in other genres, like fantasy, and–where relevant–historical novels.

    Reply
  44. Nina, the matter of how much of the villain the story needs is a very good question. It’s tricky, I think. Villains can be so interesting that one is tempted to put in more than the story requires. In a romance, I would try to keep it to a minimum–just enough to create the sense of menace and keep the reader abreast of what he/she’s up to. But the other Wenches can do a better job of discussing villains in other genres, like fantasy, and–where relevant–historical novels.

    Reply
  45. Nina, the matter of how much of the villain the story needs is a very good question. It’s tricky, I think. Villains can be so interesting that one is tempted to put in more than the story requires. In a romance, I would try to keep it to a minimum–just enough to create the sense of menace and keep the reader abreast of what he/she’s up to. But the other Wenches can do a better job of discussing villains in other genres, like fantasy, and–where relevant–historical novels.

    Reply
  46. Susan/Sarah and Sherrie. I’m so glad you gave the example of Magua’s gesture. This is a wonderful example of adding depth to a villain–and I find it quite poignant.
    Edith, I well remember THE DUKE’S WAGER–and being in the audience when you won a Golden Leaf for it. I loved that book–and your speech (yes I remember a bit of that too, even me with the sieve memory), which let me know it was OK sometimes for the bad guy to win. But it needs to be done right, and I’ll never forget how brilliantly you did it.

    Reply
  47. Susan/Sarah and Sherrie. I’m so glad you gave the example of Magua’s gesture. This is a wonderful example of adding depth to a villain–and I find it quite poignant.
    Edith, I well remember THE DUKE’S WAGER–and being in the audience when you won a Golden Leaf for it. I loved that book–and your speech (yes I remember a bit of that too, even me with the sieve memory), which let me know it was OK sometimes for the bad guy to win. But it needs to be done right, and I’ll never forget how brilliantly you did it.

    Reply
  48. Susan/Sarah and Sherrie. I’m so glad you gave the example of Magua’s gesture. This is a wonderful example of adding depth to a villain–and I find it quite poignant.
    Edith, I well remember THE DUKE’S WAGER–and being in the audience when you won a Golden Leaf for it. I loved that book–and your speech (yes I remember a bit of that too, even me with the sieve memory), which let me know it was OK sometimes for the bad guy to win. But it needs to be done right, and I’ll never forget how brilliantly you did it.

    Reply
  49. Hi Loretta… Thank you for your thoughts on how much of the villain the story needs. I’m in the process of writing one of my villain’s scenes. I can always cut them later, if needed.
    Other Word Wenches… if you have thoughts, especially on other genres, I’m all ears (and pigtails)
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  50. Hi Loretta… Thank you for your thoughts on how much of the villain the story needs. I’m in the process of writing one of my villain’s scenes. I can always cut them later, if needed.
    Other Word Wenches… if you have thoughts, especially on other genres, I’m all ears (and pigtails)
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  51. Hi Loretta… Thank you for your thoughts on how much of the villain the story needs. I’m in the process of writing one of my villain’s scenes. I can always cut them later, if needed.
    Other Word Wenches… if you have thoughts, especially on other genres, I’m all ears (and pigtails)
    –the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  52. I’d forgotten that Magua turns his knife downward, Sherrie — you’re so absolutely right. The scene is haunting and brilliant.
    BTW, a bit of Last of the Mohicans trivia: the music used in that scene, which is also used in the scene of the kiss (imho, one of the Best Screen Kisses ever!!) was written by Dougie MacLean (the fiddle was played by Alasdair Fraser for the movie score, I think).
    It was a fiddle piece that Dougie had composed for the Loch Ness tourist center a few years earlier, and it was picked up for the movie. It’s in part the music that adds that haunting, elegaic tone to the the scene between Magua and Alice. Just perfect.
    And there, the music works for both hero and villain. *g*
    Susan

    Reply
  53. I’d forgotten that Magua turns his knife downward, Sherrie — you’re so absolutely right. The scene is haunting and brilliant.
    BTW, a bit of Last of the Mohicans trivia: the music used in that scene, which is also used in the scene of the kiss (imho, one of the Best Screen Kisses ever!!) was written by Dougie MacLean (the fiddle was played by Alasdair Fraser for the movie score, I think).
    It was a fiddle piece that Dougie had composed for the Loch Ness tourist center a few years earlier, and it was picked up for the movie. It’s in part the music that adds that haunting, elegaic tone to the the scene between Magua and Alice. Just perfect.
    And there, the music works for both hero and villain. *g*
    Susan

    Reply
  54. I’d forgotten that Magua turns his knife downward, Sherrie — you’re so absolutely right. The scene is haunting and brilliant.
    BTW, a bit of Last of the Mohicans trivia: the music used in that scene, which is also used in the scene of the kiss (imho, one of the Best Screen Kisses ever!!) was written by Dougie MacLean (the fiddle was played by Alasdair Fraser for the movie score, I think).
    It was a fiddle piece that Dougie had composed for the Loch Ness tourist center a few years earlier, and it was picked up for the movie. It’s in part the music that adds that haunting, elegaic tone to the the scene between Magua and Alice. Just perfect.
    And there, the music works for both hero and villain. *g*
    Susan

    Reply
  55. Sherrie, were you thinking of Tommy Lee Jones in THE FUGITIVE when you made that comment? I did.
    Then there’s the villain who is firmly convinced that he’s doing the right thing–like Whoozis who is always trying to catch the Scarlet Pimpernel, or someone who believes it morally obligatory to burn to death someone whose beliefs on the nature of the Trinity differ slightly from his.
    And then there are the ordinary people who just don’t care. This kind of villainy–the failure of the sympathetic imagination–is well depicted in M. Scott Peck’s THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE. (I suggest you ignore the chapters on demonic possession if you read it.)
    Another good example was Claude Lanzmann’s film SHOAH, about the Holocaust, shown as a nine-hour miniseries on PBS. The most interesting part to me was where he interviewed those he called the “witnesses”–people who knew what was going on but didn’t do anything about it. In one case, he asked the inhabitants of a Polish farming village how they felt when all their Jewish neighbors were dragged off to concentration camps. One man shrugged and quoted a Polish proverb to the effect that “When you cut your finger, I don’t bleed.”
    I don’t know if that kind of evil is good story material, as it is entirely too ordinary in every sense of the word; but it is what makes great evils possible.

    Reply
  56. Sherrie, were you thinking of Tommy Lee Jones in THE FUGITIVE when you made that comment? I did.
    Then there’s the villain who is firmly convinced that he’s doing the right thing–like Whoozis who is always trying to catch the Scarlet Pimpernel, or someone who believes it morally obligatory to burn to death someone whose beliefs on the nature of the Trinity differ slightly from his.
    And then there are the ordinary people who just don’t care. This kind of villainy–the failure of the sympathetic imagination–is well depicted in M. Scott Peck’s THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE. (I suggest you ignore the chapters on demonic possession if you read it.)
    Another good example was Claude Lanzmann’s film SHOAH, about the Holocaust, shown as a nine-hour miniseries on PBS. The most interesting part to me was where he interviewed those he called the “witnesses”–people who knew what was going on but didn’t do anything about it. In one case, he asked the inhabitants of a Polish farming village how they felt when all their Jewish neighbors were dragged off to concentration camps. One man shrugged and quoted a Polish proverb to the effect that “When you cut your finger, I don’t bleed.”
    I don’t know if that kind of evil is good story material, as it is entirely too ordinary in every sense of the word; but it is what makes great evils possible.

    Reply
  57. Sherrie, were you thinking of Tommy Lee Jones in THE FUGITIVE when you made that comment? I did.
    Then there’s the villain who is firmly convinced that he’s doing the right thing–like Whoozis who is always trying to catch the Scarlet Pimpernel, or someone who believes it morally obligatory to burn to death someone whose beliefs on the nature of the Trinity differ slightly from his.
    And then there are the ordinary people who just don’t care. This kind of villainy–the failure of the sympathetic imagination–is well depicted in M. Scott Peck’s THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE. (I suggest you ignore the chapters on demonic possession if you read it.)
    Another good example was Claude Lanzmann’s film SHOAH, about the Holocaust, shown as a nine-hour miniseries on PBS. The most interesting part to me was where he interviewed those he called the “witnesses”–people who knew what was going on but didn’t do anything about it. In one case, he asked the inhabitants of a Polish farming village how they felt when all their Jewish neighbors were dragged off to concentration camps. One man shrugged and quoted a Polish proverb to the effect that “When you cut your finger, I don’t bleed.”
    I don’t know if that kind of evil is good story material, as it is entirely too ordinary in every sense of the word; but it is what makes great evils possible.

    Reply
  58. Hi Tal
    Thank you for the book recommendations.
    Great thoughts. And the quote… the highest form of rationalization. Survival.
    IMHO, I think this type of evil makes great story material, when it is properly lighted and ‘resolved’ by the h/h. ‘Turning one’s head or a blind eye’ is the result of the greatest evil and the biggest lie ever told. Well written books confronting this type of thing suggest inward reflection, a shift in ideals, an alteration of habits and the possibility that we can change the world. My opinion. Of course Hitler knew the power a ‘silly little book’ could wield. And thus he burned them too.
    Nina

    Reply
  59. Hi Tal
    Thank you for the book recommendations.
    Great thoughts. And the quote… the highest form of rationalization. Survival.
    IMHO, I think this type of evil makes great story material, when it is properly lighted and ‘resolved’ by the h/h. ‘Turning one’s head or a blind eye’ is the result of the greatest evil and the biggest lie ever told. Well written books confronting this type of thing suggest inward reflection, a shift in ideals, an alteration of habits and the possibility that we can change the world. My opinion. Of course Hitler knew the power a ‘silly little book’ could wield. And thus he burned them too.
    Nina

    Reply
  60. Hi Tal
    Thank you for the book recommendations.
    Great thoughts. And the quote… the highest form of rationalization. Survival.
    IMHO, I think this type of evil makes great story material, when it is properly lighted and ‘resolved’ by the h/h. ‘Turning one’s head or a blind eye’ is the result of the greatest evil and the biggest lie ever told. Well written books confronting this type of thing suggest inward reflection, a shift in ideals, an alteration of habits and the possibility that we can change the world. My opinion. Of course Hitler knew the power a ‘silly little book’ could wield. And thus he burned them too.
    Nina

    Reply
  61. >>“But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?”
    “The Forest Lord” by Susan Krinard is an example of a mother-villain and a failed attempt at redeeming a villain. I don’t remember the plot very well – it’s obscured in my memory by the fiasco of an ending. The mother killed the hero, slowly. He was a supernatural hero and silver was deadly to him so she locked him in a silver cage. She had some reason, also obscured, for not wanting her daughter to end up with him. The heroine pleaded and wept for her mother to give her the key to the cage, and he was revived just in the nick of time. They all lived happily ever after with the mother promising not to do that again.
    I was enraged. The mother kills the man she knows the heroine loves and gets away with it?? What the Hell?? The mother was fine as a villain, but I couldn’t forgive the heroine or the author for how they handled her. Mom is standing over the dying hero with the key to the silver cage while Daughter reasons with her. Again, What the Hell?? Apparently, Daughter couldn’t wrestle the key away from Mom because that wouldn’t be respectful. And Mom couldn’t be banished or anything because that would break up the happy family.
    A villain has to be punished. A redeemed villain has to atone.

    Reply
  62. >>“But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?”
    “The Forest Lord” by Susan Krinard is an example of a mother-villain and a failed attempt at redeeming a villain. I don’t remember the plot very well – it’s obscured in my memory by the fiasco of an ending. The mother killed the hero, slowly. He was a supernatural hero and silver was deadly to him so she locked him in a silver cage. She had some reason, also obscured, for not wanting her daughter to end up with him. The heroine pleaded and wept for her mother to give her the key to the cage, and he was revived just in the nick of time. They all lived happily ever after with the mother promising not to do that again.
    I was enraged. The mother kills the man she knows the heroine loves and gets away with it?? What the Hell?? The mother was fine as a villain, but I couldn’t forgive the heroine or the author for how they handled her. Mom is standing over the dying hero with the key to the silver cage while Daughter reasons with her. Again, What the Hell?? Apparently, Daughter couldn’t wrestle the key away from Mom because that wouldn’t be respectful. And Mom couldn’t be banished or anything because that would break up the happy family.
    A villain has to be punished. A redeemed villain has to atone.

    Reply
  63. >>“But what if the villain is female? A not particularly pretty, misguided, detached, dominating mother kind? Does anyone know of any books that have this type of villain?”
    “The Forest Lord” by Susan Krinard is an example of a mother-villain and a failed attempt at redeeming a villain. I don’t remember the plot very well – it’s obscured in my memory by the fiasco of an ending. The mother killed the hero, slowly. He was a supernatural hero and silver was deadly to him so she locked him in a silver cage. She had some reason, also obscured, for not wanting her daughter to end up with him. The heroine pleaded and wept for her mother to give her the key to the cage, and he was revived just in the nick of time. They all lived happily ever after with the mother promising not to do that again.
    I was enraged. The mother kills the man she knows the heroine loves and gets away with it?? What the Hell?? The mother was fine as a villain, but I couldn’t forgive the heroine or the author for how they handled her. Mom is standing over the dying hero with the key to the silver cage while Daughter reasons with her. Again, What the Hell?? Apparently, Daughter couldn’t wrestle the key away from Mom because that wouldn’t be respectful. And Mom couldn’t be banished or anything because that would break up the happy family.
    A villain has to be punished. A redeemed villain has to atone.

    Reply
  64. Excellent point, MaryK! Thank you! And thank you for your take on THE FOREST LORD. Haven’t read that one. Good stuff.
    Nina, appreciating the WW’s and wenchlings more ever day.

    Reply
  65. Excellent point, MaryK! Thank you! And thank you for your take on THE FOREST LORD. Haven’t read that one. Good stuff.
    Nina, appreciating the WW’s and wenchlings more ever day.

    Reply
  66. Excellent point, MaryK! Thank you! And thank you for your take on THE FOREST LORD. Haven’t read that one. Good stuff.
    Nina, appreciating the WW’s and wenchlings more ever day.

    Reply
  67. Barbara Hazard wrote an excellent romance, THE QUEEN BEE, about a woman who subtly undermines the betrothal between her son and an unworldly young girl from the country, because she is possessive and obsessed with her own youth and beauty.
    And Lady Layton had a governess who made a play for the hero in SURRENDER TO LOVE–what ever happened to her, by the way?
    How many Green Stamps does it take to redeem a villain?

    Reply
  68. Barbara Hazard wrote an excellent romance, THE QUEEN BEE, about a woman who subtly undermines the betrothal between her son and an unworldly young girl from the country, because she is possessive and obsessed with her own youth and beauty.
    And Lady Layton had a governess who made a play for the hero in SURRENDER TO LOVE–what ever happened to her, by the way?
    How many Green Stamps does it take to redeem a villain?

    Reply
  69. Barbara Hazard wrote an excellent romance, THE QUEEN BEE, about a woman who subtly undermines the betrothal between her son and an unworldly young girl from the country, because she is possessive and obsessed with her own youth and beauty.
    And Lady Layton had a governess who made a play for the hero in SURRENDER TO LOVE–what ever happened to her, by the way?
    How many Green Stamps does it take to redeem a villain?

    Reply
  70. On the subject of villains. . .
    One of my all time favorites is Patricia Veryan’s Roland Mathieson from “The Dedicated Villain”. I read her books voracicously, particulary these set following the Jacobite Rebellion. . .something about the time period.

    Reply
  71. On the subject of villains. . .
    One of my all time favorites is Patricia Veryan’s Roland Mathieson from “The Dedicated Villain”. I read her books voracicously, particulary these set following the Jacobite Rebellion. . .something about the time period.

    Reply
  72. On the subject of villains. . .
    One of my all time favorites is Patricia Veryan’s Roland Mathieson from “The Dedicated Villain”. I read her books voracicously, particulary these set following the Jacobite Rebellion. . .something about the time period.

    Reply
  73. Dear Mary Jo, just caught your kind mentions of Seducing Mr. Heywood and My Lady Scandalous on your August 19th posting. Thank you!
    Both books are still available. Signet did the mass-market of Seducing Mr. H. in May of 2005; My Lady Scandalous was published exactly one year ago.
    If anyone has trouble finding Seducing Mr. H. — in whatever edition — it came out in hardcover, large-print, and trade cover as well as mass-market, please contact me at drmwk@juno.com ; I have some copies of a couple of these editions.
    Great blog site, by the way! Hi to Sherrie 🙂

    Reply
  74. Dear Mary Jo, just caught your kind mentions of Seducing Mr. Heywood and My Lady Scandalous on your August 19th posting. Thank you!
    Both books are still available. Signet did the mass-market of Seducing Mr. H. in May of 2005; My Lady Scandalous was published exactly one year ago.
    If anyone has trouble finding Seducing Mr. H. — in whatever edition — it came out in hardcover, large-print, and trade cover as well as mass-market, please contact me at drmwk@juno.com ; I have some copies of a couple of these editions.
    Great blog site, by the way! Hi to Sherrie 🙂

    Reply
  75. Dear Mary Jo, just caught your kind mentions of Seducing Mr. Heywood and My Lady Scandalous on your August 19th posting. Thank you!
    Both books are still available. Signet did the mass-market of Seducing Mr. H. in May of 2005; My Lady Scandalous was published exactly one year ago.
    If anyone has trouble finding Seducing Mr. H. — in whatever edition — it came out in hardcover, large-print, and trade cover as well as mass-market, please contact me at drmwk@juno.com ; I have some copies of a couple of these editions.
    Great blog site, by the way! Hi to Sherrie 🙂

    Reply

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