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?

Totally.

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!

 

A Few of My Favorite Things with Michelle Boule (plus a #Giveaway)

Today, join me in welcoming author Michelle Boule, who’s here to talk about Letters in the Snow, the third book in her Turning Creek series. And we’ll be talking about favorite things, one of which is not zombies…she might be related to DJ!

ABOUT MICHELLE: Michelle Boule has been, at various times, a librarian, a bookstore clerk, an administrative assistant, a wife, a mother, a writer, and a dreamer trying to change the world. Michelle writes the historical fantasy series Turning Creek. She brews her own beer, will read almost anything in book form, loves to cook, bake, go camping, and believes Joss Whedon is a genius. She dislikes steamed zucchini, snow skiing, and running. Unless there are zombies. She would run if there were zombies. You can find her at A Wandering Eyre, on Twitter at @wanderingeyre, or on Facebook.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]ABOUT THE BOOKLetters in the Snow (Turning Creek 3): Iris is a simple postmistress in the small town of Turning Creek, Colorado. Simple, except for being a descendant of a Greek myth, having a pair of golden wings, and possessing the ability to speak prophecy. She has had her hands so full guiding the harpies towards their destinies that she has forgotten to seek out her own. …A mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer begins a correspondence that weaves itself into Iris’s heart and awakens a longing for a love of her own. The letters keep arriving, and Iris is increasingly more aware of the charms of Jacob Wells, a newcomer to Turning Creek. She wonders if the letters are from him. But even with Jacob’s charisma and the lure of a new relationship, Iris discovers the heart can’t be contained, and that her heart’s desire might be for someone who was there all along….Unfortunately for Iris, the letters and the resulting affairs of the heart are not the only perplexing things happening in Turning Creek. Something more than nature is burying the town in a deadly winter blanket, and a closely guarded secret that will change Turning Creek forever is revealed.

And now let’s hear from Michelle!

Five of My Favorite Things

By Michelle Boule

There will be no whiskers on kittens (I’m a dog person) or white dresses with blue sashes (do you know how hard it is to keep a white dress clean?) in this post. Instead, I will talk about a few of my favorite things and how they all seem to show up in my books. Art imitates life and all that.

A good cup of tea. I gave up drinking coffee all day, every day when it started affecting my sleep. I still love coffee, but I can drink hot tea all day long and still flop into bed at a reasonable hour. I am, however, picky about what kind of tea I drink. I like black tea or flavored black tea. No herbal stuff for me. I still need the caffeine. My favorite flavors are Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, and Earl Grey Lavender.

The characters in my Turning Creek series spend a ton of time drinking tea with each other. Only one of them, Marina, really complains about having tea instead of coffee, but she simply adds a dollop of whiskey and drinks away. If they have a problem to solve or just need to relax for a while, they brew a pot of tea and sit down together. I have found that a cup of tea solves problems in the real world too.

A pint of craft beer, the darker the better. I’m a beer nerd. I’ve rearranged vacations to michelle picinclude a favorite brewery stop (or two). I’ve waited in line for a hard-to-find bottle and hunted all over town for a unique brew. My favorite styles are German, Scottish, and Belgian. If it was brewed by monks or men in kilts, I am guaranteed to love it. The darker and thicker the better (*snicker*).

Turning Creek, like any respectable western town, has its own saloon. This one is run by a Remnant (descendant) of Dionysus, so you know the drinks are high in quality and quantity.

Some people love the beach, but give me a mountain skyline any day, every day. I have lived on the coast of Texas, near Houston, my entire life. It is a flat, hot, humid swamp and, while I love the people, I hate the weather nine months out of the year. I spent many family vacations growing up in Colorado, camping in the woods and breathing in the cool, pine-tinged air. There is no place in the world I would rather be than the Rocky Mountains. They speak to my soul.

I knew I needed a western town for my wild harpies and their fellow Greek myths. I chose a region of Colorado I know well, the Leadville area, and made up the Turning Creek Valley. Now, I get to share my love of this location through my books and this makes me ridiculously happy.

I love books and I would guess that if you are here reading Suzanne’s blog, you love books too. I have problems only book people understand. All my bookcases are overflowing and I have books stashed in places that they do not belong (counters, chairs, the floor, and on top of the fridge). If I buy a new bookshelf, it is, magically and instantly, overflowing. I pass up pedicures, manicures, new shoes, flowers on Valentine’s Day, and other fun things because all I can think about is how many books I could buy with that money.

One of the characters in my series, Iris, is a postmistress and guardian to the harpies. She collects and maintains a library of Greek scrolls, parchments, and books. Like Giles from Buffy, she enlists the harpies to help her with research whenever they face a monster they do not know how to defeat.

There are few things better than sharing a meal with friends. Forget math. Food is the universal human language. (Don’t tell my engineering husband I wrote that.) Talking, laughing, and sharing life over a meal is what begins new friendships and cements old ones. I think we all need to strive to open our homes more and share this simple pleasure often.

My characters spend time over drinks and meals living life, celebrating victories, and reaffirming their connections with each other. As their small group expands with partners, friends, and children, the times they spend over meals becomes even more precious and important.

What about you? What are a few of your favorite things?

Thanks, Michelle! Okay guys, tell me a few of your favorite things! As someone who recently gave away 300-plus books in an attempt to clear a path through my house, I’m now feeling guilty. But I do love books. I love strong coffee with an unhealthy dose of sweet creamer. I love playing with paint and art supplies. I love animals. I love ginger in any form–pickled, grated, baked, or aled. Is “aled” a word? How about you? Leave a comment to win a $5 Amazon GC, and mention “Black Diamond” at the end of your comment for another entry into my ARC giveaway.