by C.L. Phillips
Is fact stranger than fiction? When you develop your villains and take a walk on the dark side of life, how do you create those nefarious creatures?
Let's say for example, that you are a pleasant mild mannered person, always careful to treat others with respect and consideration. How do you craft the nasty, ill-tempered thug who beats your heroine within an inch of her life? How do you walk a mile in those shoes?
Where do you find your inspiration?
I'm asking the question because I'd like to get a better understanding of how a writer travels to the dark places with authenticity and credibility. For example, when I look at Steven King, I'd never imagine that mild mannered man would write what he writes. Not in a million years.
Most of my bad guys are extrapolations of people I've known. I recently read Acts of the Apostles by John Sundman (who I met at SXSW this year), and I swear I worked for his antagonist. I even called John on the phone and asked him, "Is your antagonist based on He-Who-I-Refuse-to-Name?" John laughed and said people ask him that question over and over. Everyone thinks they know this bad guy.
Now that sounds like a ringing endorsement of an excellent character study.
So who is your favorite villain and why? Better yet, introduce us to your current villain and tell us how you developed the character.
In my novel FIRST MISTAKE, Quattro Anderson, father of the murdered U.S. Senator wants vengeance. Not because his son is dead, but because his plans for family legacy are in jeopardy. Quattro thinks money and muscle can fix all of his problems because he's family has "owned" that Senate seat for as long as anyone can remember.
How did Quattro come to life? I took an overbearing image of a public figure, added a dash of "the rules don't apply to me", mixed in a little Sixth Generation Texan, and baked it with a sprinkle of long forgotten humility. Then I added a problem he couldn't resolve without help from the one person he couldn't buy.
Please share - one of your villains, and how you brought them to life.