01-19-19 – Judith Ashley – My Sanctuaries and Safe Havens: Writing and Spiritual Practices

Tuesday, September 26, 2017



Hi, I'm Sarah Raplee, author of surprising, heart-stopping paranormal romantic suspense.

I just had an epiphany that I want to shout from the rooftops! In order to write an ongoing paranormal romance series, think like your villain. Your series villain, not your book villain (unless they are one and the same, which mine aren’t.)

In my first Psychic Agents Series book, Blindsight, I introduced two villains. The first was a powerful drug lord who had ordered the systematic kidnapping and enslaving of people with psychic Talents. He is my over-arching villain. The second was Gregory Killingsworth, the sadistic security chief in charge of the drug lord’s psychic human trafficking organization. Killingsworth possesses a Hound Talent that enables him to track other psychic’s energy. His Talent combined with his psychopathy make him the perfect villain for my Talented team of good guys to defeat.

In Blindsight, the drug lord remains mostly in the background, a shadowy figure. Killingsworth is the villain who is front and center in the middle of the action, attempting rape, torture and murder as he pursues his (and his boss’s) goals that drive the plot through the first half of the book.

Killingsworth is the villain who dies at the end of the first book. The drug lord escapes to continue to run his international crime cartel and pursue his goals. The FBI is left with more questions than answers about his evil plans.

I’ve been planning the next book for some time, but I keep getting stuck. My hero and heroine and supporting ‘good guys’ are well fleshed out. I understand what they want and why, and their strengths and weaknesses.
My epiphany is that I need to get inside the drug lord’s head to understand what nefarious schemes he will orchestrate in the next book, Sight Unseen. How directly involved will he be in the action? What villainous character will represent him throughout most of the story? How do they drive the action?

In a different series, I might have a unique ‘case’, each with a unique villain, for my heroes and heroines to tackle in each book, as Heather Graham does in her Krewe of Hunters series. (Having a villain who stands alone and somehow escapes his reckoning in book after book doesn’t appeal to my sense of justice.)

Can you think of a different scenario for handling villains in a suspense series?

Thanks for reading my post! ~Sarah  Raplee

©  Copyright 2017 Sarah Raplee


Diana McCollum said...

Interesting and thought provoking blog post. I've read your book, Blindsight, and it was very good! I was disappointed when the crime lord got away, but that does entice me to read the next book and hope he gets caught. How will the secondary villain in your next book be different from Killingsworth?

Sarah Raplee said...

Good question, Diana! He (or she) won't be a psychopath. That would be too easy. I am working on that character now.

Any suggestions?

Judith Ashley said...

Sarah, I'm actually reading "Blindsight" now (well, not this instant but when I leave the computer for the couch. I don't normally read paranormal suspense but I've heard so much about this story as you've written and published it, I can't resist. Sorry no suggestions for handling villains in a suspense series other than what I know is true in real life - the more normal they initially appear the more horrific it is when that other side of their character shows up. Think of the charismatic serial killer where the victim walks right in to the danger (although usually ignoring that one small tiny little niggling doubt that maybe this isn't wise).

Sarah Raplee said...

Wow! That is so exciting, Judith! I hope you enjoy Blindsight.

Those serial killers tend to be psychopaths, smart and charming and manipulative, but with absolutely no empathy for anyone else. Their own wants and needs are all that matters to them.

Maggie Lynch said...

I agree with you that you have to be in the head of your villain. If your series villain is running the show, then your secondary villains need to have a unique reason they are part of this drug lord's organization. I find that seeing the world through both villain's head is important. How do they convince themselves that what they are doing is necessary?

I also think it really helps the story when whatever the villain wants somehow is similar to what the hero/heroine want. The difference is that heroes choose the right path to get to their goal, whereas villains choose the opposite. For example, if your heroine wants a family more than anything else, then your villain wants a family too. It may not be the same kind of family but the same emotional payoff. Someone or people who admire him/her and make him/her feel wanted for their skills.

If your heroine wants to be the best at her job--the best investigator, the best "talent," the best at getting people to talk. Then your villain can want the same things and, in a way, that is how he/she gains the confidence of people.

Just a thought. Can't wait to see the next book.

Deb Noone said...

Love this, Sarah - I never thought about the fact that the person running the show needs to have the higher goal (you can tell I have a hard time reading suspense as I get spooked easily :-) ), and then picks those who have the talent to accomplish each part of the goal. Once their job is accomplished, they are dispensable. And the leader moves on the accomplish goal 2 or 3, toward his/her own greater goal. The fact that each cog in the wheel is only needed for a certain accomplishment or piece, makes the leader even more evil than all his minions put together. So looking at the leader, and all his/her evil aspirations, makes that character the most deadly of them all. And because there are so many moving parts as s/he is the puppeteer, it makes it harder for the authorities to pin down who s/he is.

Sarah Raplee said...

Great points, Maggie! That can be part of what goes into constructing a villain worthy of the hero. Another way to do this is to look at what the hero or heroine needs or values, like 'loyalty' or 'independence' and make that drive your villain as well.

The hero or heroine will learn that, carried to extreme, this need or value becomes their Achilles' heel. Carried to blind loyalty makes you gullible. Extreme independence makes you need no one.

The villain either never learns the lesson or learns it too late to avoid disaster.

Thank you so much for your insights, Maggie!

Sarah Raplee said...

Deb, I hadn't thought about the fact that the series villain can be hard to pin down because they often work behind the scenes! That's a very good point. Thank you for your feedback.

Louise Pelzl said...

I have read "Blindsight" and really enjoyed it. Your on going villain doesn't have to appear as a villain in real life. He/she can be a chameleon changing with each story or circumstances which could prove to be very interesting. Can't wait for the next one.

Sarah Raplee said...

That gives me something to think about, Louise. Thank you!