What makes a villain?
Contrary to popular belief, villains do not fit into the 20-50 male age group. Villains come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, both genders. Prior to writing this I had just watched a documentary on the ‘C.I’ Channel. A woman was brutally murdered in her home. Her injuries were so severe that her neck was almost broken. Four men were put in the frame for the woman’s murder, but the men all had strong alibis.
It was but a chance meeting with an ex-con that led them to a seventeen year old girl. She and a girlfriend had gone to the woman’s house to demand money for drugs. When the woman refused, one of the girl’s desecrated the body to such an extent, the police believed only a man could have committed the crime. Apparently, the girl had written in her diary how she wanted to kill someone before she died
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were ten years old when they killed little James Bulger.
Mary Bell was eleven when she killed two little boys.
So what drives people to kill? To become villains? The child who enjoys killing and dissecting a frog to see what it’s made of. The child who kills another child, usually a younger one. Is it because they wish to know how it feels, how people will react?
Criminal profilers will suggest that the reason why Jack the Ripper slashed and sliced up prostitutes so viciously was that maybe his mother might have been a prostitute. That as a small boy, he loathed all the men who came to their house.
While not to make light of such terrible murders, these influences are sure to be drawn on when telling stories.
Writing the antagonist is as exciting as writing the protagonist. My villains have been varied and, I hasten to add, never return. Once killed off, they stay dead. They’re not Freddie Krueger!
William Sefton in ‘All of them Vampires’ is a Victorian gentleman and once a student of the occult. Sefton wants nothing better than for world domination by the vampires, so he summons The Old One, the original vampire to achieve that end.
In ‘Staying Out’, Rick Morelli, armed robber and a hardcase villain, is obsessed by the girl who went to prison in his stead. Now she is out, Morelli is aware the only way to win her back is to frame her for murder. Then she has no choice but to go with him.
In ‘Stalking Aidan’ the villains are stealthier, and prefer to use the psychology of mind-games in order for Aidan McRaney, the object of their obsession, to develop a paranoia he fails to control.
I think for me the most evil has to be Daniel Corrigan in ‘Progeny of a Killer’. Corrigan is a man whose obsession is with the past and his IRA father’s death at the hands of the British soldiers at a Crossmaglen checkpoint. These factors practically ensure his own destruction. The fact Corrigan’s obsession with the execution of the rebels in Dublin in 1916 serves to consume him to the point of madness. His insanity spills out into terrible atrocities he commits on the Mainland, among them paedophilia.
Whereas Paul Harrington in the book I’m working on now, ‘Dangerous to Know’, is a suave businessman with a beautiful wife. Harrington is wealthy, but he too has an obsession, a desire to kill that stems from the fact his 18 year old daughter was raped and subsequently drowned herself in their pool. When Aidan refuses to kill for him, Harrington’s own obsession at being thwarted in his request, is such that he wreaks a terrible revenge on someone close to the young man’s heart.