Friday, October 22, 2010

Something Wicked welcomes Keena Kincaid

Sometimes the scariest creatures out there are the ones so driven by obsession to fulfill their desire that everything else is just fuel for the fire.

In my current release, ENTHRALLED, the villain is terrifying to me because her motivations and desires are so very human. However, what she’s willing to do to reach her goal is beyond what most of us would ever consider—and then she goes even farther.

In ENTHRALLED, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine schemes to murder her husband, King Henry II, and rule as regent through her eldest son. The historical record concerning Eleanor and her husband is thin, sometimes conflicting, and lacks detail. Much of the motivation, affection, disappointment and hatred that stretched over the 37-year marriage must be inferred. But we do know that she not only encouraged estrangement between father and sons, but also actively led her sons in rebellion against the king in 1173.

My muse took it from there.

Eleanor is cold and manipulative, yet understandable. Well into her forties, her legendary beauty is fading and her husband flaunts his love for a younger mistress. She’s standing at the edge of irrelevancy—and she doesn’t like the view.

In my opinion, a good villain needs three things:
1. An understandable goal.
2. A firm belief that the end justifies the means.
3. A complex nature, complete with a good side, i.e. he may blow up the museum to stop the looting of his culture, but he takes his mother to church each Sunday.

So what do you think? What separates the cardboard baddies from the can’t forget villains?

Keena Kincaid is the author of four romance novels set in 12th century England. Her books are available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online as well as anywhere ebooks are sold. You also can fan or friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Typos and All. Leave a comment or just say hello to be entered into drawing for an e-copy of her newest release, ENTHRALLED.


Sharon S. said...

The villain needs as much character development as the hero. I want to know what shaped them and sent them down this path of evil. A true evil person would also have to be insane and believe they are acting for the greater good that way they can't see the light and change their ways cause a true evil wouldn't .

Angie Fox said...

Thanks for joining us today, Keena! Great post.

Rosie said...

Hi Keena,

Thanks for stopping by . . . I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to reading Enthralled! Your villain sounds totally villainous!!! :-)

Keena Kincaid said...

Good morning, Angie. Thanks for having me here at Something Wicked and giving me a chance to talk about villains.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Sharon. I agree the villain needs to be as fully rendered as the hero/heroine, and the reader needs to be able to understand the villain's motivations.

One big difference between the two is the villain doesn't necessarily have to have an internal character arc. He can be already fully realized.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Rosie. My villain is chilling. She's not insane, but morally ambiguous, which makes her worse, in my opinion.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Keena, nice post on villains.

I'm not sure the reader always has to understand the villain's motivations, though, at least not for a while. Most of the time, we have no idea why people are as cruel as they are and yet they still keep our attention, making us wonder. As long as it's apparent there is a reason and maybe we'll find out, that can be good enough, depending on the story.

Just a thought. But yes, they have to have more than one dimension.

Keena Kincaid said...

I agree, Loraine, that the reader doesn't have to understand the bad guy's motivation right away. I think by mid-novel, though, he/she should and ideally will sympathize just a little bit with the villain.

To me, Magneto is a fabulous villain because...well, he's the hero of his own story, and his goals to advance mutants to dominance make sense if you consider his childhood in Nazi Germany. Power is the only security he and his kind will ever have. This makes him so much more interesting than say Darth Vader is a cut-out villain despite George Lucas' attempts to give him conflict and motivation.

Celia Yeary said...

KEENA--Oh, I love a good villian--most of the time. I really don't care for the type that goes around slicing up people--but I am interested in complex villians. I saw a list once about the kinds of villians. I had no idea there were certain kinds with particular goals--maybe I should find that article again. "Morally ambiguous?" Hmm, I'll have to think on that one.
Some romance publishers don't want a villian with his/her POV--mine did in All My Hopes and Dreams, and I had to petition the owner to get my villian her place. And she almost upstaged my heroine and the other secondary female.
Thanks for the reminder about a "good villian." Celia

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Keena,

First, great blog post. I love how your muse gets excited about history and brings it to life for the rest of us.

Some people make the mistake of thinly sketching a villain, preferring to spend the bulk of the time with the hero/heroine. The villain, or the anit-hero, must be just as devious/cunning/bad as the hero is shrewd/empowered/good, though I agree that tossing some redeeming qualities into villain pie makes a tastier meal.

I've had the pleasure of reading Enthralled and I must say that you portrayed your queen in a chilling but believable manner. The story was so engrossing that I just kept turning the pages. Way to go!

Muddy Waters is out now!

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Celia,
I'm not a fan of the slice-n-dice genre either. The villains aren't that interesting, but scary enough to keep my teenage self from parking along dark, deserted roads. :-)

Keena Kincaid said...

I'm so glad you "liked" my villain and ENTHRALLED. The historian in me adores Eleanor, so I was shocked when she emerged the villain. I thin that made me work twice as hard to make her as interesting in fiction as she was in real life.

liana laverentz said...

Characterization makes a good villian...which includes all three of the things you mentioned. Love the sound of your villainess, Keena! Nothing cardboard about her!

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Liana. Thanks for coming by. My CP once said that she worried about me after I reading Eleanor.

StephB said...

Keena, I think it's very important that a good villian bring a complex nature to the book. That's what makes reading the book so much fun. A good villian is not entirely evil - and if he were - he'd been insane. For me, a good villian has to have a "redeemable" qualitiy about them.


Keena Kincaid said...

Hey, Steph, thanks for coming by. Yes, I like complex villains whom you could almost redeem...almost.