C. J. Chase and Inspirational Villains
Posted by Donna MacMeans Feb 23 2013, 12:37 am
I’m happy to welcome C.J. Chase back into the lair. C.J. and I first met over the internet when we discovered we both had books with the title “Redeeming the Rogue” coming out the very same day. Since then we’ve discovered more similarities including Golden Heart credentials. C.J. writes Inspirational Historicals for Harlequin while I write historicals that are inspirational in a different way (wink, wink). Her latest, THE RELUCTANT EARL, is out this month. RT magazine says “This complex tale reveals the difficulties facing those with handicapped loved ones in this time period, and also provides an interesting look at the political unrest of the time.” Welcome C.J.!
So there I was, staring at the dreaded blank screen. For hours. Every idea I came up with seemed more pedestrian than the last. You know the people who tweet or Facebook the most mundane things? Yeah, I was all set to make them look like literary geniuses. Bunions are more exciting than the ideas I was discarding
After a totally unproductive morning, I went downstairs to the kitchen. Maybe I could write better with lunch. Or chocolate. My oldest son had just gotten home from class, so I mentioned my dilemma to him.
“Well, what kind of blog is it?” he asked.
“Romance novels.” Duh. Why else would Mom be guest blogging? She has a book out this month, The Reluctant Earl, published by Love Inspired Historicals.
“So write about villains in romance novels.”
Just like that. He accomplished in 30 seconds what I hadn’t done over an entire morning. I’d have bopped the snot-nosed brat on the head except at 18 (as of last week) he’s bigger than I am these days. Instead, I decided to put him to work. We brainstormed for about five minutes. I was having so much fun (and so many good ideas) I realized the entire conversation needed to go into the post.
We decided to finish the discussion in a chat so we could capture the creativity that was buzzing around the room like electricity. Nothing feeds creativity like the presences of another creative person.
C.J. – I’d like to introduce everyone to my oldest son. Why don’t you say “Hi” to the readers and contributors at Romance Bandits.
C.R. – Hello.
C.J. – Since you don’t have an “official” bio yet, tell everyone a bit about yourself.
C.R. – I’m C.R. Chase; I’m C.J.’s son and writing partner. My father and I get to help my mom come up with story plots, and when she starts writing, we’re some of the first ones to proofread her stuff. She in turn has helped me a lot recently in proofreading a story I’ve been writing for fictionpress.com, Deception. With her help, I’ve greatly improved over the other books I’ve written in my Underground Saga. But enough about that, let’s get to today’s topic.
C.J. – Yes, today’s topic. Villains. Should I worry that you seem to know so much about them?
C.R. – Haha. Maybe. Most of my writing knowledge comes from what you taught me. In this case, I expanded on that knowledge by observing the villains in various books and movies.
C.J. – Oh, so now you’re blaming me for your knowledge of evil. How Freudian. Don’t worry. We have a special trust set up for your therapy costs. But back to the topic. You listed a number of different kinds of villains. What are some of your favorites?
C.R. – I guess my favorite would be the megalomaniacal kind, but that may be because my stories deal in grand scale adventures more than romance.
C.J. – Megalomaniacal. You mean like the guy who has an evil laugh, ugly mustache, and a craving to take over the world?
C.R. – More or less. You can hold the mustache and the laugh is optional, but taking over the galaxy, or at least the world, is typically what I think of as my favorite villain. But there are other forms of evil that are just as useful and often less corny.
C.J. – So share your ideas about evil villains first—because I believe we decided not every villain is evil.
C.R. – Well, most evil villains desire political power, money or a hostile takeover of some form or another.
C.J. – Ah, yes, greed. But I notice you didn’t include revenge in your definition. I consider greed and revenge the two most common motivations for a villain.
C.R. – Oh, darn, I overlooked that one. Yes, revenge is a powerful motivation for villains, but in my experience, there are just as many non-evil villains who are bent on revenge as there are of the other variety.
C.J. – You identified a villain from my current release as one of your “non-evil” villains. But doesn’t the very notion of the character being a villain include evil? I mean, I’d consider villainy a synonym of evil.
C.R. – Well, sometimes the bad guy of a story isn’t really a bad person. That is especially the case in those romances where the hero has a rival trying to win the heart of the heroine. The rival isn’t bad, but he is in the way of our hero’s happy ending. There are also villains that are jerks but not evil per se.
C.J. – Let’s talk about the insane villains for just a minute. How does a writer make them “real”? I always feel like I’m shortchanging the reader with a villain who’s crazy. Maybe it’s the mystery reader in me who wants a villain with a logical motive to make the crime-solving more interesting. Or maybe I should say, more solvable.
C.R. – Well, one thing to remember about crazy villains is that they are only motivated by a desire to fulfill their strange desires. Whether it’s death or sex or scientific knowledge, a maniac will use any means at their disposal to achieve their goals. I suppose you could say this is the logic of insanity. The most eerie part about it is that an insane person doesn’t think of him/herself as evil; regardless of the atrocities theycommit, their twisted minds run on a logic of their own that justifies what they do.
C.J. – I think that’s one reason I don’t like doing them. I did once write a story that had an insane villain who did really gross, evil things. And I discovered I didn’t like having to go that deeply into the thought process of such a person. Getting that dark was emotionally draining.
C.R. – I can understand that. Then again, that’s why madmen make great villains in mysteries and horror stories.
C.J. – Let’s go back to our definition of a villain being the person working against the hero. That can be from evil intent, or just from a sincere belief the world (or heroine) would be better off if the hero doesn’t get his goals.
C.R. – Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying; the antagonist, regardless of his motivations, gets in the way of the happy ending. Personally, I’ve always believed the best stories have a combination of various types of antagonists, mixing a redeemable jerk or two along with a really evil guy.
C.J. – I love using multiple antagonists. I remember once when I was stuck on a plot, and you (correctly) pointed out that I only had one villain in the story instead of my usual two (or more).
C.R. – I remember that, too. It seemed pretty clear to me you would have no end of fun working with multiple bad guys that would get in each other’s way as much as the hero’s.
C.J. – Um, remember that you’re talking to the woman who keeps going above her publisher’s word count. “No end of fun” is a very real problem of mine because I can’t find the end of the book! I’m starting to think you have a little villainy in you.
C.R. – We all have some villain in us; it wouldn’t be possible to write about them if we didn’t. As with any character, a writer must be able to put their mind into that of their villians, otherwise you can end up with some pretty lousy bad guys.
C.J. – Wisdom from my teenager! Before we quit, I’m supposed to be promoting my latest book. It has a villain (or two or three) in it.
C.R. – Yeah, one megalomaniac, one scumbag and one vengeful but not necessarily bad person. Of the three, which do you think of as the main villain of your story?
C.J. — Hmm. I think I’d have to go with the megalomaniac, simply because so much of the plot is controlled by him/her.
C.R. – Interesting. I was thinking it might be the jerk in this case.
C.J. – Well, that one’s more upfront in his villainy, while the megalomaniac is a behind-the-scenes kind of person. But every one of them has a good reason (to themselves) for what they do, huh?
C.R. – Oh, definitely. All three of these villains is well thought-out, particularly the avenger. And the coolest part is how they get in each other’s way so much, that whenever you think you know who dunnit, something new happens.
C.J. – Hey, I might have to hire you to be my PR person!
C.R. — Well, I wouldn’t turn down the offer.
C.J. – So, go ahead. Give me a little promo.
C.R. – All right. C.J.’s book The Reluctant Earl is a wonderful love story in the midst of civil unrest and mystery. You will be on the edge of your seat throughout the whole story, and just when you think it’s almost over, you’ll get a few extra surprises.
C.J. – Ha! Some writers get quotes from famous authors. I have one from a future famous author. Thanks for brainstorming with me again. I don’t know what I’m going to do when you leave for college in the fall.
C.R. – Ditto. My fictionpress stories will really go down the tubes without you.
Isn’t he a cool kid? You can probably imagine the kinds of discussions we have around the dinner table. Someday I’m sure he’ll be signing books to me. In the meantime, if you happen to overhear us plotting a murder at the local pizzeria (something we have been known to do), you’ll know it’s for a book.
So how about you? Are you a fan of villains? Who is your favorite villain from screen or page? C. J. will give one someone leaving a comment a copy of The Reluctant Earl. Speaking of which – here’s a blurb:
Alone in a gentleman’s bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing—governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister’s care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambrelle’s coat could be valuable—if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in.
As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he’s plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance’s independence is intriguing—and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. Yet when he sees the danger that surrounds her, it may be too late to stop himself….
And a link to an excerpt here: http://cjchasebooks.com/cjchasebooks/EarlExcerpt.html
And a fun one. Here’s a link to the trailer (which has a picture of a villain’s hand holding a gun…): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed-7zsLvPGs
Posted in C.J. Chase, Inspirational Historicals, villains