But He’s Your Villain

Recently, during on one of my fellow sister’s post, I stated that my villain in EVIL’S WITNESS actually came to my house. Some thought that statement was cool. Others raised their brows. Well, I’m here to tell you he did—figuratively he did.

While writing Evil’s Witness, which releases in six short weeks, I had such a great handle on my hero and heroine, John and Stephanie. I knew their dreams and secrets. Heck, I even knew what toothpaste Steph liked to use and which gun was John’s weapon of choice.

However, when it came to my villain, Victor, I knew he was the bad guy, stole money and wanted to do really bad things to John and Steph, but not much else. When the plot line of my book started to look like a sway back mare, I knew I had to invite Victor into my home.

It was a snowy, blustery night when he came to my door. The tree tops howled as the raging winds bent them at odd angles and mad gusts picked up handfuls of snow and sent them to the swirling heavens. Was God telling to be careful?

I stayed alert as Victor followed me into the living room. He paid no attention to my DH who watched a football game on the television and DH paid no attention to Victor, until later.

I asked Victor to sit beside me and while he shrugged off his calf’s skin leather jacket, folded and draped it across the sofa’s back I picked up my pen and notebook. My first question surprised him. “Why did you dye your hair platinum blonde?”

A micro-second before his gaze darted away, I saw Victor’s insecurity. His answer surprised me. I hadn’t expected the Russian Mafia prince to show emotion over his hair. The reason why he colored his hair was just the tip of Victor’s emotional iceberg. An iceberg I probed, digging for the real Victor.

Over the next hour we talked about his life, his career choice, his feeling toward Steph and John and his relationship with his family. I could see his mannerisms and hear his forefather’s dialect, even though he tried hard to mask it.

I couldn’t jot notes fast enough. When my DH decided it was time for Victor to leave because it seemed I was having too much fun with the guy, I had this overwhelming sense that a friend was leaving my home and would travel on a dangerous road. In my mind, I cautioned Victor about his actions and where they might lead him. He simply smiled, and said “Sometimes a man has no choice. He must do what he has been trained to do, without question.”

After the door had closed behind Victor, I dashed off two new chapters. One was inserted into the front of the story because my readers had to know the real Victor and what motivated him to carry out the acts he did. The other lifted my sagging middle out of a dark grave and gave the plot new life.

Victor is one of the favorite characters I’ve written. I will admit I loved writing about him and in his voice. Yes, he is a villain, but after our meeting I understand his whys and his secrets and his dreams.

Have you ever fallen in love with a character?

52 responses to “But He’s Your Villain”

  1. Laurie Kellogg says:

    I’ve been in love with every one of my heroes. After all, they’re my dream men. Even though they have trouble admitting it, they love all of my heroines to distraction and believe they’re the sexy females alive.

  2. Diana Layne says:

    It’s a given we better fall in love with our characters! I actually love one of my villains so much, a female bad ass, I’m planning on rewriting the book and making her an anti-hero.

    • Exactly! That is the way I feel about Victor. He needs his own book. He needs to redeem himself. But will a reader except him? SIGH

      • I think there are “deal breakers” for every reader. And everyone’s deal breaker is different.

        • But he’s not a sport hero or an actor or rock star. Which leads us back to yesterday’s topic, breaking the rules.

          Maybe Victor will come back in another one of my books as a secondary character, redeem himself, fall in love with another secondary character but in the end will die a hero. Hmmmm. Sniff.

          • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:


            Did you ever see Betsy’s Wedding? Alan Alda gets caught up with the mob, the mob boss sends one of his nephews to oversee, and said nephew ends up falling in love with Alda’s other daughter—the cop. Redemption is nigh.

            By all means, redeem Victor. You can do it. And if he’s half as intriguing as he sounds, your readers will love him too!

          • Elise Hayes says:

            I’m with Gwynlyn. I’d *love* to see a book series where the villain in an early book ends up the hero in another book. I’ve plotted two of my villains that way (although I’ve never actually taken the plunge and written their books) and LOVE it when a find a book where the “villain” is that complex and rich.

        • Hope Ramsay says:

          One of the most powerful Hero/Villians I ever read was in the Troy Game fantasy series by Sara Douglass. The series runds four books and the villian in the first book, becomes the hero in the fourth. I could say the same about Duglass’s Wayfarer Redemption — the villian in the third book, becomes the hero who actually saves the whole wide world in the sixth and last book. This is one of the things I love about this particular fantasy author. All of her books explore the issue of redemption and, to some degree, God’s grace. The villians are really complicated people and you start rooting for them, even as they do truly heinous things.

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        The ONLY drawback would be if what he did was so nasty (like disemboweling a baby) that lingering disgust/revulsion couldn’t be overcome.

        If he hasn’t done anything THAT bad, then by all means….who doesn’t love a redeemed bad boy???? (as long as he doesn’t start wearing cardigans or anything. NO cardigans, please.)

  3. Hope Ramsay says:

    I don’t really have villians in my stories, so much. Oh, well I have a moronic gambler who shows up at the end of Ticket to Last Chance and creates a Black Moment. He’s sort of a villian, but not the kind you’d fall in love with. My heroine refers to him as a peanut brained weasel, which more-or-less describes him. He was fun to write, but I didn’t love him.

    The rest of my stories don’t have bad guys per se. They have situations. Since I write funny stories the situation is everything.

    I do fall in love with my characters — especially my secondary characters. There are several who, when they get scene time, tend to walk away with the story. I have been wrestling with one particular secondary charcter — his name is Dash Randall — who is a repeating character in my series. He’s a good ol’ boy who is a recovering alcoholic. He’s very well-heeled, having, at one time, been a major league catcher. His playing days are over and he’s trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. He spends a lot of time in the local bar, Dot’s Spot, battling his demons, while drinking Coca cola with lime. I’m still not certain I fully understand why a man battling the bottle goes down to the local Honky Tonk every night. I’ve used him as a foil for my heros, and in the current story he’s going to be the game changer that clears the way for the hero and heroine to be together. His aunt is the local matchmaker in town, and she’s a hoot of a character, too. There is an interesting relationship between Dash and his Aunt Miriam.

    I’m really going to have write a book for him at some point. Hopefully the Last Chance series will be successful and I’ll be able to write 5th book and give it to Dash. In the meantime, the guy is happily going about stealing every scene that he’s in. 🙂

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Sounds fabulous, Hope! The way you talk about all of them, they sound like real people…people you know well. A verrrry good sign.

  4. Dash sounds like my kind of guy–a flawed good ole boy just like Jake in Major League played by Tom Berenger. Loved his character. Jake was sweetly flawed. Your just had to root for him.

  5. I adore villains!

    I’m a huge “Alias” fan, and that show featured several fascinating, gray-shaded villains that I’ll never forget. I loved the hero and heroine of the story, of course, but what kept me riveted to the screen was watching those villains push and pull the world around them.

    That show is the reason I fell in love with contemporary romantic suspense. If you ever get the chance to watch it, do.

    • Yeah, I’m not alone! Do you have a villain in your story that you love?

      I hadn’t seen Alias. It’s no longer on the air, right? I’m a huge 24 fan. So sad to see the show ending. I’d hope Tony would redeem himself. Another good boy turn bad that I love. SIGH

    • Diana Layne says:

      Oh, I love Alias too! I have a couple of the seasons on DVD, need to collect the rest. 🙂

      • Diane, I’m so happy to hear that! I hardly meet anyone who adores Alias as much as I do — but perhaps that’s for the best. That kind of obsession should be reserved for chocolate products and philanthropy.

        If you get the chance, buy the complete set in the Rambaldi artifact box. It was released a few days before my birthday a few years ago, and my husband wisely purchased it for me. Best present EVAR! I keep it in the position of highest honor on my doo-dad bookcase.

    • Ooh, yes, Jamie! I loved Sark in Alias and even grew to love Sloane. Both weren’t *all* bad. I think villains need to have three-dimensional personalities, otherwise they became dull adversaries.

      Great post, Autumn!

  6. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    It’s easy to love heroes; they are so heroic, after all. Villains, not so much, but I love that you dug deep into yours and got to know the man who became your villain.

    There are any number of stories—and, of course, I can’t think of a single one at the moment—where the person who seems to be the villain turns out to be a good guy. The ambiguity can be enthralling or annoying, but it keeps the reader turning the page.

  7. Tina Joyce says:

    I love my villains…not because they’re nice people (they tend to be dark), but because they fascinate me. Normally it’s not a single traumatic event that causes them to “fall,” but a complex series of missteps. Trying to figure out where that line in the sand was…and at what point they stepped over it is a challenge. Did they hesitate? Do they have any regrets? I love exploring their POVs.

    I have fun writing them, so much so that I have to be careful not to let them take over the story.

  8. Villains are fun to write!

    In the book I’m revising right now, I actually have three. They’re best friends, grew to adulthood together, and yet, suddenly their different goals/fears/regrets start to tear them apart, and that inner friction is really what causes their downfall, even more so than the hero and heroine.

    It’s been really interesting to get into each of their heads and discover what makes them tick.

  9. Jeannie Lin says:

    What a fun post! I think it becomes easy to fall in love with heros and well as villians when you work so hard to flesh them out. Three dimensional characters rarely end up being “all evil”.

    I had a very similar situation happen with my “villian”, though I even hesitate to call him that. I kept on pondering what my warlord villian in Butterfly Swords would be like and characters kept on dropping hints about his reputation and what he was like. He only appears in the very last part of the book. I actually had an odd revelation about what to do with him (which I’m not going to go into because I want to see if it worked!)

    But because I spent so much time trying to figure him out, as you did, and he was a bit of a mystery man to me, I think I definitely fell in love a bit more. Maybe we want the mystery and the adventure of learning about someone?

    • Someone who leads a different life than we do. I think you’re right. I know I was fascinated by Victor. We could’ve talked for hours, like a first date, if DH hadn’t said it was time for him to go and for to go to bed. LOL.

      But seriously, thinking about the questions I’d ask him like he was right there with me talking about John and Steph and the crimes he was committing made him so real. I could feel his thoughts, his emotions. I hope the readers like him, just a little bit. He was so easy to write.

  10. Tamara Hogan says:

    I don’t know that I so much love TASTE ME’s villain, Stephen, as much as I find him endlessly fascinating. Fleshing out his psychological profile was one of the most satisfying aspects of writing the story – to the degree that he’s a continuing character.

  11. Autumn, I don’t usually love my villians but I do like your Victor. Hope you don’t kill him??!! Looking forward to reading Evil’s Witness.

  12. Kate Parker says:

    Autumn, you have me thinking about my current villian. I know why he’s doing what he does, but you’ve inspired me to flesh him out a little more. Give him some “human” moments in the story.

  13. I don’t tend to do villains, either. Usually, my hero is his own worst enemy.

    With that said, I’m completely, totally in love with the hero I’ve been writing lately. He appears in two other books as the office flirt (my first heroine actually thinks she wants him) … but in this one, we find out that he has actually very carefully crafted the playboy image to keep respectable girls (girls like my heroine) at a distance.

    Oh, and he moonlights as a stripper at a club called “The Sword and Stone.” 😉

  14. Elisa Beatty says:

    Autumn–I love the idea that you invited your villain over!

    Whenever people say “interview your characters” I always kind of shudder…it’s just not my approach. But now I kinda want to try it!

    I have a minor (actually absent) character in my WIP–the heroine’s murdered sister–and I knew she had a very difficult life, but didn’t have the details worked out. I took a day and wrote out her whole life story, figured out all the dates of what happened to her, and let it really take shape. Almost none of the info will end up explicitly in the book, but just doing it somehow enriched the whole novel for me. What *is* on the page is coming much easier now.

  15. rita says:

    I have trouble liking villains. I know if you give them a large part in the story you have to give them the same characterization as the H&H, they have to be three dimensional. A good way to to do that is interview them By definition the villain is the bad guy. Insensitive, rationalizes bad behavior and breaks the law so while you are talking to him please be careful.

    • He was sweet to me, Rita. Lol. Showed me the side he kept hidden, which made me understand why he did what he did and why he drawed the line too.

      Don’t worry. I’ll be careful writing his story.

  16. Darynda Jones says:

    I’ve always wanted to try this, Autumn, to interview my characters. I have yet to do it, but let me tell you, you have completely convinced me! I am weaving a YA in the back of my mind and I really want to interview them now. Thanks for the motivation.

    Love your writing, girl!!!!

  17. […] | Tags: characters, Check-in | Leave a Comment  Inspired by a post earlier this week at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, I sat down to have a chat with my hero and heroine […]

  18. […] that same vein, after reading a post here on the Ruby blog by Autumn Jordon, in which she writes about a visit from her villain, I was […]


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