Villains Have Feelings Too
When I wrote my first published novel The Darkness of Light my main focus was to tell my heroine, Mara’s, story. But as the story took shape and my villain, Malcolm, was born, he ended up taking on a life of his own. He was supposed to be vile, he was supposed to be irredeemable, but as his character unfolded I found that Malcolm was a person, Malcolm had feelings, and Malcolm had reasons (albeit misguided ones) for his actions.
Some of the more sympathetic fictional villains that come to mind are:
Lestat (Interview with the Vampire) – He later becomes the protagonist and arguably the most loved Anne Rice character.
Loki (Thor, Marvel) – You can’t help but feel bad for the guy. He’s a foundling and is always out of place.
Jamie Lannister (Game of Thrones) – Sometimes a bad guy gets what he deserves and changes his tune.
Black Jack Randall (Outlander) – The alternative Frank Randall. We can’t help but see Frank in his horribly vicious ancestor, and when we learn Jack’s secret, you can’t help but wonder if that’s why he’s so angry.
Death (The Arcana Chronicles) – Death is a great example of a villain evolving. He starts out as the main antagonist with seemingly no human qualities whatsoever, but as the series continues we learn that there’s a lot more to Death than we first thought.
William Hamleigh (Pillars of the Earth) – A perfectly selfish brat, but he does have his human moments that make you see him as less than a monster.
Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) – It’s impossible not to love Heathcliff, and while his descent into darkness makes him a true antagonist, we forgive him because we can sympathize with his struggles.
Dracula – A monster, a blood drinker—a creature unlike the sexy vampires we’ve come to know and love. Dracula is a villain to rival them all, BUT he wasn’t always so, and the more we know of the man that became the creature, and the humanity that still resides in his immortal heart, we love him.
These characters are all antagonists. These characters have all done terrible things. But these characters also evoke a sense of compassion in the reader at some point, and that’s what makes them such great villains.
When I realized my character, Malcolm, wasn’t simply a cold-hearted antagonist, I started to explore his motivations. In Darkness we see his jealously, his arrogance, and his entitlement, but we also learn about his feelings of abandonment, insecurity, and his deep need for acceptance. Quite often Malcolm tries to do the right thing. He knows the difference between right and wrong. But the moment he feels slighted he takes the low road in order to get what he wants.
The Embers of Light is an exploration of what happens to a villain when he becomes the victim. In The Darkness of Light, Malcolm was punished for his actions, and in Embers he faces even more adversity as he confronts his inner demons. He’s still Malcolm the villain, and revenge is his motivation, but as he navigates the world without his Light (the power that was taken from him), he’s forced to make some choices that will change him forever.
It’s important for villains to have relatable emotions rather than being these inherently evil entities readers can’t relate to at all. Villains can struggle with their antagonist ways, they can show kindness or mercy, and they can even come to regret their actions. This is what makes a villain human, and based on the list of villains above, this is what makes a villain to remember.
The Embers of Light
The Dia Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Tammy Farrell
Date of Publication: Jan 28th, 2015
ISBN: -13: 978-1505434989
Number of pages: 388
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Nathalia Suellen
The descendants of the ancient gods think they’ve found peace, but the time has come when new magic and ancient powers will collide…
Stripped of his Dia powers and left to rot, Malcolm is a prisoner of Valenia—a sentence he finds worse than death. His thoughts of revenge are the only thing keeping him sane, but when he finally manages to escape, Malcolm discovers that living as a mortal is more dangerous than he ever imagined. After stealing from the wrong man, Malcolm becomes a captive once more, only this time his punishment is one that he won’t soon forget. His only hope of survival is Seren, an enigmatic young girl with golden eyes and a malevolence to match his own.
When he’s led to Mara and Corbin, the two responsible for his fall from grace, their new faction of Dia is in chaos, infiltrated by an ancient power thought to have been banished forever. This only fuels Malcolm’s ruthless ambitions, but he soon realizes that he too is under attack, a pawn in a centuries old game of power and greed. As new battle lines are drawn, Malcolm finds himself in uncharted waters, forced to choose between helping those he’s vowed to destroy or give in to his lingering desire to settle the score.
Debts will be paid, lives will be lost, and no Dia will ever be the same.
Available at Amazon
By the time the smell of smoke and roasting meat finally reached Malcolm, and his hole in the ground was completely black, he knew the time was drawing near. The sound of laughter and flutes from above stoked the fires of determination within him, while the repetitive drumbeat counted down the minutes.
His mind wandered as he stared sullenly at the walls of black earth. He clutched his mangled hand to his chest, far too weary for anger. He was humiliated. Over and over again he’d been disgraced, robbed, laughed at. The hardest truth to face was that there still might be more degradation to come. He had wanted everything and succeeded at nothing. Hope was now but a whisper in the past, still carried on the winds, but too distant to hear.
Malcolm pressed his head against the soft earth. He had nothing left to lose and nothing left to love. Even his own mother had become an unseen shadow, abandoning him in his time of need. She was useless to him, as she always had been, and he vowed that if she ever showed herself to him again, he would speak any word that might pierce a mother’s soul.
About the Author:
Tammy Farrell grew up in Orangeville, Ontario Canada where she discovered her love of writing, and all things related to Edgar Allan Poe. She now lives with her husband and six fur babies in Greenville, South Carolina, where she attempts to learn French when she isn’t busy writing.
Learn more about The Dia Chronicles and Tammy Farrell’s other works at: