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.
ABOUT 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.
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!