From an early age, I’ve always had a certain curiosity in regards to villains, from fairy tale witches to the murder mystery bad guys. It’s not that I wanted to be them—for that particular fantasy I looked to the heroes—but the evildoers always had a certain appeal I couldn’t quite shake. Maybe I wanted to know what made them tick, or maybe it seemed like they had more fun (I mean, what kid doesn’t secretly want to cause a little mayhem and chaos every now and then). Whatever the reason, I regularly succumbed to their allure.
My first major villainous crush was with Maleficent from the Disney cartoon Sleeping Beauty. And why wouldn’t I be enthralled by her? Of all the characters in that movie, she’s the one everyone remembers best. From her haughty, nefarious attitude to her commanding presence on film (made all the more remarkable when you realise she’s an animated character), it all instantly mesmerized. This villain’s arrogant demeanor, her regal stature beckoned to me, but it was the scene that sealed the deal. You know the one, where she went all fabulous demon sorceress on the viewers and turned herself into a dragon. Well, I tell you that spectacle gave me chills, and I was forever hooked. (To this day, I still get a little thrill when I watch that scene).
Number two in my childhood baddie parade is the one, the only, Darth Vader. The cumbersome prequel back-story aside, when he first hissed onto the screen in the original Star Wars my villain radar perked to attention. As I watched, a veritable legacy of sinister magnificence was born (okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Vader was very, very cool). And even in the midst of my pre-teen hero worship, I felt a pull towards the dark side (for Halloween that year I donned a Vader costume and menaced the neighbour for candy).
The lure of the villain remained strong as I aged. From Sherlock’s Moriarty, to Batman’s Joker to Hans Gruber in Die Hard, and on to Dracula, the truly great bad guys pop off the screen and the page for me with a fascinating charisma. And it probably does hurt that they seem to get the best lines of dialogue. So, of course it seemed quite the natural fit for me to explore the villain in my writing, as I’ve done in my Killers and Demons series, and make evil the main character.
So why my great love for the villain? I don’t know, really. Maybe my brain has a loose wire, or I harbor a secret attraction to the bad boys. Or perhaps, just perhaps, I have a surreptitious wish to dance with the Devil by the pale moonlight, after dining on some fava beans and a nice Chianti…
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