Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cougars and Villains

by Stephanie Black

I’m glad Rob blogged today and that he had a legitimate excuse for not blogging yesterday—I was betting on the lazy sack excuse, so I suppose I need to repent and not rush to judgments, no matter how well-founded they might be.

As he mentioned, my daughter is heading off to BYU very soon. This will involve a great deal of driving in a very short space of time. My husband has no vacation days to spare for the trip, and I’d just as soon not make the return journey all by myself, as a twelve-hour road trip is always better with company. We could fly her out, but then we’d have to ship her stuff. So driving it is. Because of our tight schedule, we won’t have much time with her in Utah—in fact, we’re planning to just slow the van a little and push her out into the street with a box of dishes and a suitcase in hand, counting on a cute returned missionary to find her and escort her to her living quarters.

Kidding. She’ll kill me if she reads this. She’s already gotten harassed on the marriage front because I married young, so relatives are inclined to tease her about the possibility of her doing the same (I got married the summer before my junior year at BYU, by the way, in case you were thinking I was in junior high or something).

This won’t be Amy’s first BYU experience—she’s actually participated in graduation exercises, though she doesn’t remember it. I was about eight months pregnant with her when I waddled across the stage to receive my diploma. Cute little Amy had her first months of life there in Provo while my husband finished his degree. (My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary on the same day we’re driving home from Utah. Isn’t that romantic? Nothing says, “I love you, darling,” like driving through the Nevada desert.)

I’m excited for Amy, but of course, I’m a little sad to think of her being so far away. But at least I’ll get to see her in a month. On September 24th, I’ll be in Utah presenting a class at the UVU Book Academy conference, which brings up today’s blog question. My presentation will be on writing good villains. My question for all of you is: Who are some of your favorite villains? Which villains stand out to you as being compelling and memorable?


At 8/19/2009 4:20 PM, Blogger mathmom said...

My favorite villain is Zero. He is just so powerful and yet so unknown. His allies are anywhere, so you can't trust anyone.

I also really like Snape as a villain, even though he is good in the end. Actually, the fact that he is good in the end is probably why I like him so much. But, he is just a perfect villain. So consistently mean, even when he is supposed to be nice to Harry, he does it in a mean way. But, he has such a depth of character.

At 8/19/2009 4:30 PM, Blogger Tamara Hart Heiner said...

how fun!!! I remember when I left for BYU. so very very exciting. And I'm glad you weren't in junior high when you got married. people thought I was, as I was 23 and consistently look ten years younger than I am.

villains. Yeah, Snape is good. For that matter, Vordemort is a perfect villain. he doesn't tiptoe. he gets straight to the point.

At 8/19/2009 5:53 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

Summer before your junior year, eh? Clever way to put it, young 'un.

Lucius Malfoy is a good villain because he is thoroughly snotty but believably so.

At 8/19/2009 6:19 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

This is a harder question than you'd think. Often the hero gets more than one book (movie) but it seems rare for the villain to get more than one. Doesn't the hero defeat the villain, only to find out he reported to a nastier villain? (Think 24.)

Darth Vader is a good one. He remains faceless behind the mask, is physically imposing and possesses the dark arts. He commands armies, fleets, the whole Empire. Talk about your overwhelming odds! Plus, you find out that he had once been one of the good guys, but turned to the dark side. In other words, he's really fleshed out, complex. His motivations aren't completely clear. Does he want to kill you or have you join him?

I really enjoy the Forsaken from the Wheel of Time as villains. As a group, they all serve the Dark One, but each has his or her own motivations and machinations. One might even help the hero, if it ruins the plans of one of the other Forsaken. It's all about balance of power and who comes out on top.

I'm not sure whether Snape qualifies as a villain (IMO). Harry certainly thinks of him that way, but he's really more of a nemesis or adversary than a true villain. Looking through Harry's perspective, Snape's actions seem bad, but are sometimes good, from another angle. Voldemort is clearly a villain, and while he starts out a bit nebulous, he evolves into a better villain over time, as he becomes a real opponent instead of just plots to be foiled.

p.s. Planning to come to the conference!

At 8/19/2009 6:30 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

My, my, my, Miss Stephanie. I just finishe Methods of Madness last night at about midnight. I had to stay up to finish even though I had to be up at 5 for work. Now, there is a villian!

At 8/20/2009 12:49 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you, everyone, for the villain suggestions! And mathmom, I'm so glad you liked Zero!

Jon--hooray! That's awesome that you're coming to the conference.

Sandra, thank you! I'm always delighted when readers stay up late to finish my books! :)

At 8/20/2009 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shark from Jaws and Spike from Buffy (before he went all nice). And the Joker from The Dark Knight. (Wow, I'm really pushing the ratings here!)

I think there are 2 kinds of literary villains; the first kind think they are making the world a better place and the second kind are just doing what comes naturally. Personally, I think the latter kind make for better entertainment.


Post a Comment

<< Home