Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Author, Aida Brassington

Today at A Tasty Read, I have Aida Brassington, Author of Between Seasons, a very different kind of romance that I reviewed yesterday, for all of you who haven't yet read yesterday's post!

Aida is Guest Blogging today about Creepy, Conniving, Mean-Spirited, Evil Villains!!

Let's welcome Aida!!

Every story needs a villain. Cruella de Vil. Hannibal Lecter And in BETWEEN SEASONS, my debut novel, it’s Julie.

Julie is the sister of the woman (Sara) who buys Patrick Boyle’s (the main character in the novel – and a ghost) house. She’s based on someone I know: an extremely religious woman who enjoys manipulating everyone in her life, and she’s good at it. She wants people to give in to her every demand just on principle, and she’s not above lying and bribery, even though she thinks of herself as a godly, good soul.

My guess is you know someone like that, too.

So what’s the purpose of the villain in literature, and how do you create believable villains? Just for starters, a villain creates conflict. Just because I named Cruella de Vil and Hannibal Lecter as classic villains, though, doesn’t mean all villains are so . . . obvious. Many of them are regular people like Julie or Annie Wilkes (remember Misery from Stephen King?).

I think of Julie as the Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter) type of villain – a little on the one-dimensional side. And it’s done on purpose.

In an ideal world, of course you want to make a fully-realized, nuanced villain. The world of BETWEEN SEASONS is not ideal, nor is it fair. What do I mean by that? The story is told from the point of view of Patrick, a nineteen-year-old dead guy who is stuck in his childhood home. We (the reader) only know Julie through Patrick’s filter, which – as a fairly young person – is black and white and very limited. The only thing Patrick sees is this horrible woman with no redeeming value, so that’s what the reader gets.

It’s by design. Julie would look a lot different if BETWEEN SEASONS were written in third person, or first person told from Sara’s point of view.

But back to that ideal world. If you’re writing a story and want to create a more textured villain, there are some things to keep in mind:

1.       A multi-faceted villain makes them fascinating. Sure, Hannibal Lecter was big into cannibalism, but admit it: you liked him, right? Why? He was charming. Lecter punishes people we (in some instances) believe should be punished. Or what about Annie Wilkes? Sure, she kidnaps and tortures her favorite writer, but she reminds me of my mom (god, I hope she’s not reading this).

2.       Change or die – this is what’s ultimately satisfying for a reader when it comes to villains. It’s not always possible, but we want to see a villain go through some type of transformation, or we want them to die or come to some other unseemly end.  Jack Torrence in The Shining freezes to death. Magneto from The X-Men goes to prison. Syndrome from The Incredibles gets sucked into a plane engine by his cape.

3.       Giving your villain a reason to be mean and nasty is a good thing. Magneto is a great example, and so is Syndrome. In BETWEEN SEASONS, Julie’s reason for being a horrible person are much less complicated than either of those examples, though: she’s worried . . . and she’s convinced what she’s doing is in Sara’s best interests.

While these three paths to writing a great villain are helpful, not every story is going to be able to include each of them. Does it mean a novel (or a movie) is poorer for it? It’s a debatable point – but that’s the beauty of reading: what we like is subjective.

Want to read BETWEEN SEASONS to see Julie through Patrick’s limited viewpoint? Now’s your chance! All you have to do is leave a comment to this post and let me know who your favorite villain is and why. A random commenter will be chosen to win an ecopy (available in PDF, Kindle, or Nook formats) of BETWEEN SEASONS.

Buy Between Seasons:
Amazon US [link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061G3HHA] | Amazon UK [link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0061G3HHA] | BN [link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/between-seasons-aida-brassington/1107065107]


“I’m sure. But I’m good. I even gained a few pounds.” Sara patted her stomach, setting the rocker in motion with her legs. “And this is going to sound weird, but being here is helping.”

“Moving across –”

Sara interrupted. “I’m not talking about relocating. Well, not entirely. I mean this house.”


“I don’t feel alone here.”

Patrick froze and slowly cut his eyes back to Sara’s face. He was sure there was no way she could mean what he thought.

She smiled and rubbed her thumbs over the armrest. “I talk out loud.” A moment later she laughed and continued. “At first I talked to Scott… sort of as my own way of dealing with this shit. But then… I don’t know. It feels like there’s someone here with me.”

“You do know how crazy that sounds, right?”

Patrick bristled on Sara’s behalf over the condescension in Jules’ tone since Sara seemed so intent on ignoring it.

“Sure. It’s just that there’s a real history here with this house. Megan told me everyone in town thinks the house is haunted.”

Jules sat up straighter, glancing around and touching the cross at her throat. “Really? Why?”

“She doesn’t really know. It probably has something to do with the house being empty for forty years. You know how it is in small towns.”

“You should call a priest. What if something evil is living here?”

About Between Seasons

There are things Patrick Boyle will never forget: the sound of his own neck breaking at the moment of his death in the fall of 1970, the sweet taste of his mother’s chocolate cake, and the awful day his parents abandoned him in his childhood house-turned prison.

Nineteen-year-old Patrick wonders for decades if God has forgotten all about him or if he’s being punished for some terrible crime or sin over a lovely forty years trapped in an empty home. But when Sara Oswald, a strange woman with a mysterious past, buys his house, old feelings reawaken, and a new optimism convinces him that she’s the answer to his prayers.

Things are never simple, though, especially when she begins channeling the memories of his life and death in her writing.

About the Author

Aida Brassington lives in a haunted house in the suburbs of Pennsylvania with her husband of five years and a Great Dane named Patrick. She loves all things related to Halloween and spooky movies, but not because she shares her house with a ghost (and it should be noted her ghost does nothing more than occasionally appear in the second floor hallway and hide her keys) — she just likes being scared. She is a former political junkie with a deep interest in artisan food, reading, and scuba diving.

Find her at Twitter [link: http://twitter.com/AidaBrassington], her website [link: http://aidabrassington.wordpress.com/], or Goodreads [link: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5307026.Aida_Brassington].


Amy Lamont said...

It's hard to choose just one villain we love to hate. I think on the top of my list is Annie Wilkes, the obsessed fan in Stephen King's Misery. I cringe just thinking about the things she did to her favorite author!

A Tasty Reader said...

I personally HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE Mother Gothel from Disney's Tangled...Mother Knows Best my butt!! She made me so ANGRY during that movie (which is one of my favorites), I was happy when she falls from the tower and "poof" she is gone!! hehe!!

Jen Shields said...

Aida, first of all, I love your author pic!

I enjoyed your synopsis, sounds good!

My favorite villains are from The Princess Bride!

Vizzini, inigo and giant Fezzik. How can you beat these multi-faceted, memberable characters. You want to root for them, even when they're trying to kill Wesley.

If I had to pick one of the three though, Inigo Montoya for sure!

Aida Brassington said...

Amy -- A girl after my own heart! I love Annie Wilkes because she's just so...normal. You know, aside from being totally psycho. Hah!

ATR -- I've not seen Tangled yet, but Mother Gothel sounds like a great villain!

Jen -- The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies of all time. I kind of forget that Inigo and Fezzik were, technically, villains...if only for a few minutes.

A Tasty Reader said...

Aida....You need to get Tangled on your TV right now!!! I bawl EVERY freakn time!!

Jen, to answer your question from my previous post of the Between Seasons Review, I believe it can be bought in paperback as well as, ebook.

Luisa said...

When you think Villain, who do you think of other than The Joker. He is the classic Villain, and has been throughout the years.

As a side note, In my opinion, Heath Ledger played the scariest of all The Jokers. I still get chills just thinking about that smile.


Julie Canoutas - Esthetician said...

OK well My Favorite villain is ......Darth Vader !! I know you are all laughing right now... He was such a bad ass!He could choke you and not even touch you...yeah thats cool... I would love to throw some electrical bolts ....lol..LUKE I AM YOUR FATHER..When it came down to it the Dark side LOST!!! I have quite a few favorites but he was one of the first one I thought of. You have to have a villain to have a hero ..there is always a balance with the two.. gotta put these in too...#2. Keyser Söze The Usual Suspects OMG what a great character!!! I loved him!! #3. Hannibal Lecter total weirdo..The Omega..Dragos ..Count Dracula man I could go on forever. xoxox

Angelia Almos/Angie Derek said...

My favorite villain of all time has to be Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. "I'll cut your heart out with a spoon!". Best villain line ever. I also have a soft spot for the Terminator in Terminator 2, not Arny but the other one. Great facial stuff. Mother Gothel's Mother Knows Best is great - very wicked and so psychologically damaging.

Megan Bryant said...

Im going to have to go with Commodus from one of my all time favorite movies.....Gladiator. Joaquin Phoenix was incredible in this role. He was so easy to hate, you couldn't wait for Maximus to get his final revenge.