Squawk Radio

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lisa on "Villains-turned-heroes"

Well it’s out!

I have been so delighted and honored by the reactions to Devil In Winter. It’s a privilege to be able to write for a living, and especially to write something as personal as a romance novel. I believe there is a special bond betweeen romance writers and readers, because we all share an interest in the intricacies of the human heart, and all the passion, humor, mystery, tenderness and general craziness of falling in love.

The hero of Devil In Winter is Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, who is a villain in the previous book. Originally I had no plans to turn him into a hero, but as “It Happened One Autumn” drew to a close, I couldn’t let him go.

Have you ever noticed when you’re watching a movie or reading a book that sometimes you’re rooting for the villain as much as the hero? In the old Hollywood westerns, the good guy always wore the white hat, and the bad guy wore the black hat. But some men look pretty damn good in the black hat! Some actors, and some authors, manage to give the bad guy a deliciously wicked allure. Like Antonio Banderas in “Assassins” or Alan Rickman in “Robin Hood” or Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner”.

It is one of my favorite fantasies to see a powerful villain brought to his knees by love. But as I considered the problem of how to make Sebastian into a hero, I realized I had to show enough of his character to make him a little more sympathetic, and I also had to to put him through the wringer. You can’t redeem a villain easily--he has to go through some life-changing experiences, and this entails a little suffering.

The fun I had as an author was for Sebastian go through this process at the hands of the woman he (and the readers) least expect it from. Evie is a shy, awkward woman with a stutter, as compared to Sebastian’s silver-tongued smoothness. You would never think she could hold her own in an argument with him. But I knew Evie had steely inner strength, which was the only reason she had survived so long in the home of her abusive relatives. And from the very first scene between Evie and Sebastian, I felt the chemistry, tension, challenge, and reluctant liking that eventually pulls them together.

So who are some of your favorite villains from movies or books? Who lit your fire even though you were supposed to be rooting for someone else?
Lisa Kleypas, 12:58 PM