We Love to Hate…Villains, with Tameri Etherton (plus a #Giveaway)

Today, join me in welcoming author Tameri Etherton, who’s here to talk about villains and The Stones of Kaldaar the first book in her Song of Swords series. You know how we love our villains (or love to hate our villains…or something like that).

ABOUT TAMERI: Tameri Etherton is the award-winning author of the Song of the Swords fantasy series. As a born storyteller, Tameri grew up inventing fictional worlds where the impossible was possible. It’s been said she leaves a trail of glitter in her wake as she creates new adventures for her kickass heroines and the rogues who steal their hearts. She lives an enchanted life in Southern California with two dogs, a finicky cat, and her very own prince charming.

Tameri loves to chat with readers! You can find her online at her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Goodreads, or via email! You can click here to subscribe to her newsletter.

coverABOUT THE STONES OF KALDAAR—Never let gods determine your fate…For thousands of seasons Aelinae has been a peaceful world, since the Great War that saw the banishment of the god Kaldaar, and the imprisonment of his brother…. But now Aelinae’s peace is threatened as an ancient prophecy predicting the return of the Eirielle, the one who is and who is not, blazes to life….  It’s up to Taryn, a woman raised on Earth, without any knowledge of her family, her power, or her role in Aelinae’s future, to learn the ways of this dangerous and magical new world before she loses everything she holds dear…. To do so, she must accept the help of Rhoane, a man who promises to protect her, but she’s not sure she can trust. …On Aelinae they say there can be no Light without Dark and no darkness without light. If Taryn fails, there will be only Blackness. …Absolute. Binding. Without end. …The Stones of Kaldaar is the beginning of an epic fantasy about honor, family, and Taryn’s fight for one man’s love—and their struggles to save Aelinae from the evil forces of an unseen enemy.

By the way, The Stones of Kaldaar is free right now on all platforms. And now let’s hear from Tameri!

Why Are Villains So Darn Irresistible? And a Giveaway!

If you look up the definition of villain in the dictionary, this is what you might find:

Villain [vil-uh-n] noun “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or

 devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.” dictionary.com

But what if you asked a villain to define him or herself?

They might tell you they aren’t bad (they’re just drawn that way, to quote Jessica Rabbit); in fact, I would hazard to guess that every villain believes, to the depths of his soul, that he is good. Villains are the heroes of their own stories.

The ‘so bad they’re good’ villains truly believe what they’re doing is for the benefit of society.

And that’s what makes them so darn irresistible.author pic

Take Loki, for instance. How can you hate him? He’s a foster child! He was raised alongside his older, blonder brother, treated as an equal, but never really measuring up to their father’s expectations. He’s not bad, he’s just misunderstood!

Riiiiight. Loki is bad to his core and he knows it, but he also knows that if given the chance, he’d rock that crown and be a darn good king. Or Allfather, or whatever it is he’d call himself.

It’s easy to love Thor. Those eyes, those biceps, that hammer!

But Loki? He’s dark and mysterious. He has secrets. He is, if you really think about it, a mythological modern-day Christian Grey without the riding crop. He’s so messed up that ladies (and some gentlemen) want to take him home and fix him. Because he’s worth saving, right?


Every villain is worth saving.

No matter how bad, or manipulative, or low-down rotten they are, every villain started out as an innocent child. Through society, or family, or bad choices, they ended up on the wrong side of the hero. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back to goodness. Or so we’d like to think.

Just like Luke Skywalker, we have to believe there is good inside every Darth Vader we encounter. That’s why good girls fall for the bad boys. It’s why we cheer for the villain.

Take Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Oh. My. Villain.

Every look, every word uttered from his lips was an invitation to hate him, but I couldn’t. He was too damaged, too full of his own moral indignation. I actually hoped at the end of the movie that he’d open that pod and escape just so I could see him again.

That’s what a villain should do—capture our hearts as completely as the hero has. The villain needs to be equally as important to the story as the hero, or where’s the conflict? A boring villain is too easy for the hero.

What if your villain is a self-centered, cruel manipulator? Can you still love him?

Yes. As long as he truly believes in what he’s doing. In my Song of the Swords series, Zakael is a villain I love to hate. He uses people, drinks their blood (no, he’s not a vampire, just twisted that way), doesn’t hesitate to take what he wants, and has some disturbing ideas about sex, but underneath all that pain and cruelty, he truly believes he is what his world needs. I’ll bet you can guess who he thinks is his  perfect match. That’s right—the heroine. You can bet that causes some problems for her and the hero!

When you break it down, Zakael’s motives aren’t all that different to Taryn’s (the heroine). They both want peace to their world. But he understands that to do so means he has to kill a few people, starting with his father, who wants to sacrifice the heroine to a mad god. A justifiable goal? Yup! At least, according to Zakael. I’m sure his father would disagree, but he has his own problems and issues…

Villains are complex characters that can’t be bad just for the sake of plot. They need to be justifiably bad. They have to own their decisions and believe in what they’re doing. They can’t be bothered with how society defines good versus evil. The steadfast belief in themselves as the hero of their own story is what makes them remarkable, and memorable.

And ultimately, irresistible.

Now it’s your turn. Who is your favorite literary villain? Film villain? Do you prefer the heroes or villains in a story? Why? Share with us! We’d love to know.

Everyone who comments will be entered to win a super cool drawing! Since The Stones of Kaldaar is free right now on all platforms, you could win either a print edition of Kaldaar, or book two of the series, The Temple of Ardyn ebook. Plus, a $5 Amazon gift card! I’ll pop back in next Wednesday to draw a winner. Good luck!


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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

34 thoughts on “We Love to Hate…Villains, with Tameri Etherton (plus a #Giveaway)

  1. My favorite literary villain is Dracula. I like him better in the book than the heroes.

    • Oooh, he’s such a tortured soul. I agree, he’s much better in literary form than on celluloid. And he’s so darn sexy in that brooding kind of way.

  2. I’d like to leave a trail of glitter in my wake…lol. Thank Suzanne and Tameri. My favourite misunderstood villain would be Crowley from Supernatural…have you met his mother??!!

    • Hey Suzanne! I think that’s the funniest thing I’ve read today! “Have you met his mother??!!” You are so right! He’s pretty darn awesome as a villain.

      As for the glitter, it’s easy to do. Just sprinkle some on yourself each morning and you’ll shine on all day. So will anyone who comes in contact with you! I have a teensy glitter addiction. I don’t see that as a bad thing. Not at all!

    • No spoilers! I just bought that book at Comic-Con and am looking forward to reading it. I’m currently immersed in Red Queen, so I have to finish it first before I start Crows. They had these amazing temporary tattoos at the booth, which of course I had to get. Mine was of a wine goblet and a raven. It was wicked cool (and covered a hideous bruise I had from running into a wall. Being a klutz is a talent of mine). 🙂

      Now I’m even more excited to read the book and meet a great villain!

  3. I love Myrdin, from the Morganville Vampires series. Actually, I kinda like a bad boy, so I have lots of villains I like.

    • I don’t know this series! I must check it out immediately. I do, however, know the name (I even have a character in the fantasy series named Myrddin), and the legend of this mystical man. Was he good? Bad? Both? I love all Arthurian legends, especially the ones that center around Merlin (Myrddin is the Welsh spelling of his name). Sorcerers fascinate me, as do vampires.

  4. How about Catwoman from the old Batman TV series? I loved her role. Your Kaldar book looks very interesting. I will definitely check it out.

    • Yes! Absolutely. She had the greatest voice for Catwoman. I can hear it now, and I’m getting chills. She scared the crap out of me when I was a kid! Great choice.

  5. oh a vilain i love to hate? Rand!! one that make me swoon depsite being bad hum….if considered as vilain: shessomaru ( in inuyasha) i guess i’m more fond of heroes^^

    • Rand? From Wheel of Time? I thought he was the hero. Or is there another Rand I need to know about?

      Sesshomaru, I remember him! He’s so pretty, but so cruel, too. I had such a crush on Inuyasha.

      • rand from suzanne series a egoistical elf you would want to strangle^^

        shessomaru can be so kind he saved rin after all

        • Derp! Of course, that Rand. You know how you get a name in your head and that’s the only one that exists? Yeah, Rand.

          And you’re right, Sesshomaru did save Rin, so he’s not totally awful, and there was always something kind of sad about him. But he was still a jerk to Inuyasha. 🙂

  6. I think I must agree with Miki, Rand it is. Also think I’ll add Christof and Florian, the princes of Faerie.

    • Another vote for Rand! Now I’m super curious about him.

      Oh yes, Christof and Florian are great villains! Mmm, now I want to read Princes of Faerie again. 🙂

  7. I think my favorite is Loki. Really, the kid is raised to hate his own people, then kicked out/leaves because he isn’t Odin’s real son. Who wouldn’t be a little messed up?

    • Right? Poor kid. I’m sure Odin meant well, but that definitely will mess with your head!

      I hate to say it, but my favorite scene with Loki is when the Hulk is flinging him from side-to-side and says, ‘Puny God’. It slays me every time! My least favorite scene, not because it’s bad, but because it hurts my heart to watch, is when he’s alone in his cell and it looks gorgeous, but then it fades away and you see the real Loki, complete with his torment and shoddy attire. I think that’s the moment you realize how messed up he is. I just want to give him a hug.

  8. Okay, I know I already commented but my kids were watching youtube and it just fit. Check out “bad boy rap” by studio c. It is funny and really perfect.

  9. Hi everyone! What a crazy day for my laptop to decide to block me from WordPress! I’m not sure what’s up with that, but I’m here! Yay!

    I just want to thank Suzanne for having me today. I’ve been a fan of Suzanne’s for a long time and had the chance to meet her a few years ago at RWA National conference. She’s super sweet and adorable. Well, since then, I’ve been a huge fan of her Sentinels of New Orleans, so you can imagine how exciting it is for me to be here, in her house of sorts!

    Thank you to everyone who has commented thus far. It’s always fun to see what readers love and which characters make them giddy. I admit, I do love me some bad boys… almost as much as the heroes!

  10. Villains sometimes give you the best moments, in book, TV and film. I’m watching VIKINGS at the moment, aka binge watching, Floki makes the perfect villain/antihero.

    • They absolutely do! They make the story richer for them being there. I mean, yes, we need conflict, but a great villain adds conflict just by being present. I only watched a few episodes of Vikings (I’m waiting for the whole series to binge watch), so I don’t remember Floki, but I do recall Lagertha (I think, Ragnar’s wife?), was super bad ass. If she becomes a villain, no spoilers! That show is gritty, raw, and engrossing. I can’t wait to see all of it.

    • Yes he is! Sometimes I wonder what it was like to be Mary Shelley, during her time, writing this book. So scandalous! Yet, she gave him such depth and emotion that you can’t help but love him while being terrified of him. Or that might just be me. 🙂

    • Good one! I can’t watch Ralph Fiennes now without seeing him as Voldemort. It’s kind of sad, really. He’s a terrific actor, but to me, he’ll always be He Who Must Not Be Named. 🙂

  11. Right now, I seem to be hooked on Fox’s new series, LUCIFER. Lucifer Morningstar is, well, The Devil, Satan, the ultimate nemesis, yes? And yet – I’m loving what they’re doing with the Christian Good vs. Evil battle. He is portrayed as an archangel, one of God’s children, who was assigned the duty of punishing the bad people who die. He’s sick of the gig, so he escapes and comes to Earth for a holiday, then decides to make the holiday permanent. God’s unhappy about this, so he sends another archangel to bring him home. Lucifer is self-serving, sexy, punishing, gorgeous, and complex. Does this make me a bad girl?

    • I’ve heard so many great things about this show! I need to watch it, I think. At Comic-Con some of the bags had Lucifer on it, and all weekend I’d see this dark, brooding, handsome gent with wings and think, ‘Yeah, that’s my kind of story’. Your recap has sealed the deal.

      Does that make you a bad girl? Heck no! It makes you complex and exciting, and… dare I say it… a little naughty! Next thing you know, you’ll be writing super sexy scenes (I can only hope!).

      Thanks for stopping in to comment. I’m off to find Lucifer and get caught up.

    • He’s definitely got the creepy factor down. Yet, he’s a troubled soul. I remember reading the books I’d vacillate between hating him and Snape, then when Snape’s story was explained, I had so much compassion for him. I never got to that point with Voldemort. I still get the heebie jeebies when I read a scene with him in it. *shivers* He scares me. 🙂

  12. Congratulations, Ashfa! You are the winner of a $5 Amazon gift card and your choice of either a print edition of The Stones of Kaldaar, or The Temple of Ardyn ebook! Please email me at Tameri@TameriEtherton.com to claim your prize.

    Thank you to everyone who commented! I hope to chat with you again soon.