Writer Wednesday: Not All Bad

*This originally appeared as a guest post over at IB Book Blogging during my Drawn Blog Ghost Tour
MC910215955Bad guys can be seriously tough characters for an author to write.  But every story needs them.  What would Star Wars be without Darth Vadar? Or Harry Potter without He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?  But writing these characters in a way that makes them believable is tricky.

You want to create huge problems for your hero, and that requires a villain and some true evil.  But write about a person who is all bad and you have a cardboard character.  Like those villains in the silent flicks who twirled their moustaches while tying the damsel to the train tracks.

In my novel Drawn I had to create several baddies. The book is about teen artist Michelle De Freccio, who moves to England hoping for a more normal life.  Almost immediately she starts drawing a guy from the 1400’s. When she meets him (Christopher) at the town’s castle, things really get strange…and when she follows Christopher into the Middle Ages, well, stranger still.  The novel needed villains in the present AND in the past, so I had my bad-guy work cut out for me.

The secret, I found, is to show another side to your villain. Even if it’s just for a moment, you want a glimpse of someone who means well at times, or who is wounded in some way, or who truly believes they are doing the right thing.  If I can get the reader for just a moment to see this side of the bad person, then I know they’ll have a different view of things.  That they may even understand how the bad person went so wrong.

Here’s a moment from Drawn when I try to do just that… In the following scene Michelle discovers that her visits into the past have seriously begun to alter history and to wound Christopher’s fate. At this point, she’s started to really fall for him, so seeing history books that accuse him of terrible things is frightening indeed. Michelle has pulled book after book off the Academy’s shelf, searching for answers. Her modern-day nemesis Constance takes this opportunity to get Michelle into trouble with Constance’s mother who is the Academy’s Headmistress:

I blink and see Headmistress Hunter looming over me. Constance peers smugly from behind her.

“Such disorder,” the Headmistress says between tight lips, taking in the jumble of books at my feet. She’s almost trembling with anger. “Horrific. We do not treat reading material so shabbily, Miss De Freccio.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry.”

“The Academy expects appropriate behavior both in school and out. We pride ourselves on being the best.” She sniffs as if I clearly don’t qualify.

Constance grins.

“Clean this at once,” the Headmistress is saying. “Understand, this will go on your record. And on your father’s. This doesn’t bode well for his future here.”

Constance’s grin fades.

“But this isn’t his fault,” I say and hate the pleading tone in my voice. “Please don’t let it affect my dad, Headmistress.”

Constance whispers, “Mother, I don’t think—”

“Are you criticizing me?”

“No, of course not.” Constance looks at the floor.

In that brief scene the reader knows that Constance didn’t mean to endanger Michelle’s father’s position at the Academy. We see Constance has some sort of a soul and some limits, and that she is terrified of her own mother.

As for the villains in the medieval part of the book? This was a tough one because there is a mystery intertwined in the plot.  Who is the traitor? Who murders the Earl? And who is killing off all the courtiers? What if all signs point to Christopher, the young man (er, ghost?) Michelle has now come to love?  I had to spread doubts and clues in a way that gave info but also made the reader (and Michelle) wonder who can really be trusted. I can’t tell you who the real villains are without spoiling the book for you, but when all is revealed, you can bet the reader understands why the bad ’uns are doing what they do.

Balancing good and bad in a way that’s convincing can be a real challenge for any writer.  Put in too much good, and the villain is not a real threat. Put in too much bad, and you’ve created someone that’s ridiculous and unbelievable. I tried very hard to balance my villains for just the right feel… I hope readers will find it all works.

Actually, a review about Drawn that popped up on the site Author Chronicles says: “not a single character is one-dimensional—each one has flaws, strengths, and depths to them. Even the snotty ‘Queen Bee’ girl, Constance, who could easily have been a stereotype, has flashes of a soul at war with the front she puts up.”

Not all bad! 😉

This Week’s Highlights!: DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour Continues

First, some quick updates:

*Drawn ebook is still on sale for just $0.99…but for a limited time…links are here.

**Also, through Valentines Day, you can enter to win all of my books signed, plus chocolates, plus have a chance at a grand prize…entering is as easy as leaving a comment: click The Valentine Blog Hop for the details.

AND NOW: News from the road…

The Drawn Blog Ghost Tour road, that is.

This week I’m criss-crossing the globe…I’ve packed my wrinkle free clothes, my passport and my writing journal… Well, okay, since this is a BLOG tour after all, maybe I haven’t packed anything. Maybe I haven’t left the country. MAYBE I’m sitting in my studio in my jammies all week long.

So? I’m STILL crossing the globe on this week’s tour, making not one but TWO stops in Australia, then racing back to the U.S. for the balance of this week.

But can’t we imagine that this author is wandering through cyberspace, a fashionable carry-on over one shoulder, and a well-read copy of Drawn under the other?  We envision this author as unstoppable. Her business-like heels click clack through the world’s airports.

Her passionate mission? To spread the word about Drawn, her new paranormal novel about a timeless love between teen artist Michelle, and Christopher, the medieval ghost with a sketchy past… Our world-traveling author won’t rest until everyone knows it’s gotten amazing reviews, like last week’s rave from The Author Chronicles, who said “If you’re looking for a book with an engaging protagonist, captivating plot, and paranormal twist, this is for you. Just make sure to clear your calendar first, because once you start, you won’t want to put it down!”

Our jet-setting author wants people to realize that if they like Twilight, Hush Hush and books by Beth Fantaskey, that they will fall in love with Drawn

Our trail blazing writer wants…well, she wants to get out of her jammies and into real clothes at some time this week, but never mind that.  On to this weeks highlights (the fourth week of the tour!), brought to you by the fabulous book bloggers on the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour!:

February 6th:  That’s today! Say a hearty g’day to our down-under blogger Novels on the Run as they host my guest post “Any Time but the Present.” I share why I think time travel is so seductive, plus some tasty excerpts from Drawn.

February 7th: Still in awesome Australia is blogger Agrippina Legit, who will feature a review of Drawn and an interview with me with that “Land Down Under” spin.

February 8th: We zoom back to the U.S. where The Cozy Reader posts her review of Drawn plus my  guest blog “Writing Magic,” where I share some of my own techniques for writing believable fantasy scenes…with examples from Drawn.

February 9th: Take a walk on the dark side at Lucas Mangum’s Dark Dimensions blog, where he’ll post his review of Drawn plus run an interview with me exploring the fascination with darkness and the paranormal…and the darkness that winds through Drawn.

February 10th: Twimom101 features a quirky Top 10 Q&A with me. I reveal some stuff… Er, hope I didn’t embarrass myself? If I do, please tell me!

As with any of these posts, leave comments and I’ll be sure to comment back.  See how dedicated I am? Even with ALL of this travelling.  Even with spending all day in my fuzzy slippers…er, I mean, my business-like heels…

Ah the glamour of being an author on tour!  Truly, there’s nothing like it…

To catch up on any of the fun you missed in the past few weeks on the tour (from authentic ghost photos, to reviews and interviews and posts that are illuminating and/or bizarre) just click here or on the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour tab at the top of my website at any time, and follow the links.

Bon voyage!

Week 2: DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour Haunts

First, a quick update!  I’m so excited to announce that Drawn, my new YA paranormal about a hot medieval ghost with a sketchy past, broke into ranking #24 on Amazon’s list for Juvenile Medieval fiction! Happy dance!!! (Medieval jig?)

Now onto the tour…I’m really loving this whole blog tour thing!  Week 1 of my Drawn Blog Ghost Tour was amazing, with stops at wonderful book blogger and author sites (to visit any of the stops, just go here for links).  Plus a giveaway of a signed copy of Drawn is going on over at The Elliot Review through the end of January!  So you still have a chance to win a copy.  Just head on over to The Elliot Review and fill in the form at the end of my guest post by clicking here.

And here’s what’s up for Week 2 of the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour!:

Monday, January 23rd: On her blog Mirth & Matter, Author Elizabeth Bunce hosts a guest post I wrote, titled “Picture This.” I talk about how my background as a fine artist shaped Drawn, and how the main character Michelle uses her own artist’s point of view to paint pictures in the reader’s mind.

Tuesday, January 24th: Author Jaye Robin Brown posts a fresh new interview with me over at her fun Hanging on to Wonder blog

Wednesday, January 25th: Twilight Moms posts their review!!!! Plus they run an original interview with me, along with a Drawn BOOK GIVEAWAY! Click on their site for a chance to win your own autographed copy of  my new book. 🙂

Thursday, January 26th: All Things Books posts a never-before-seen interview with me. Check it out, and leave some comments.  I’ll be commenting back!

Friday, January 27th: All-Consuming Books features my guest post “Going Forth with Resolution.” Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions? Am I?  In this post I talk about all the resolutions that I absolutely, definitely do NOT make. Look forward to your comments there about your own “not made” resolutions…

As always, thanks to all the fabulous bloggers who have made the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour so much fun to haunt. To visit any or all of the stops on the tour, check it all out by clicking here! And we’re only half way through the fun.

Keep warm with a good book,
Marie