Anyone who knows me knows I love my villains. There’s something liberating about writing a character so twisted, they keep me up late into the night either writing or lying in bed, wide awake because I’ve managed to disturb myself. That’s not to say I don’t love my heroes and heroines, I do. I love developing their story, watching them grow and fall in love. But, for me, bad guys are so much fun to write! As for motivating those bad guys…talk about allowing the imagination to soar.
So what motivates a villain? If you’re an avid suspense/thriller/mystery reader, I’m sure you’ve read books that have some pretty creepy bad guys in them. That bad guy’s actions might creep you out, but at the same time, have you ever closed the book and wondered, “what was the point?” Chances are, the villain wasn’t motivated enough. Chances are, he/she wasn’t developed enough and you were left not understanding why the villain would go to the extreme they did in the story. I don’t ever want a reader to finish reading my books and be left wondering what’s the point. Ever. Over the years, between reading and sharpening my writing skills, I’ve learned to constantly question why. Why did my villain do that or say this or kill the guy down the street?
In my book, Shadow of Danger (Book 1 CORE Shadow Trilogy), I have two men killing together. I knew I wanted this premise and loved the idea of an evil duo. But why would two men kill together? I had to dig deep and basically profile my villains. And although important, I’m not talking about just their ages, occupations and physical descriptions. I had to pick their brains, get inside their heads and discover what it was about them that made them join forces and do very bad things. I had to get a little twisted with this duo, but I think it made for a killer ending (haha).
In Shadow of Perception (Book 2 CORE Shadow Trilogy), I loved, loved, loved writing my villain, Michael Morrison. In all of my suspense novels I do my best to keep you guessing as to “who did it” and despite that I tell you upfront Michael is a killer, there is more to this story. The key to this book is not only watching the hero and heroine trying to figure out what the reader already knows—the bad guy—but it’s also about the reader trying to pull pieces together to discover the link and identity of a secondary character. This secondary character will leave you guessing and hopefully have you reading with the lights on.
Let’s go back to Michael. His motivation was easy: revenge. But I did my best to take that revenge to a new level. I took an ordinary man, put him in an extraordinary position, then I got into his head. As a mother of four, I know I would do anything to protect my kids. Would I go to the extreme Michael went to? Would I kill for my children? Tough questions and ones I wouldn’t want to be forced to honestly answer. But this is fiction we’re discussing. Still. How does an ordinary man become a killer? How extreme were the circumstances that pushed him to the edge, taking him from an average Joe to a serial killer?
In Shadow of Vengeance (Book 3 CORE Shadow Trilogy), I had the storyline created, knew who my hero and heroine were (they’d both been introduced in past books), the setting and a basic idea about the villain. In this story, young men pledging fraternities are being kidnapped during Hell Week and are never seen again. Pretty extreme, especially because this has been going on for twenty years—at the same university. Okay, so I had to really get creative. I had to climb inside the head of my killer and come up with why. Why kidnap pledges during Hell Week? What was it about this villain that drove him to such an extreme? Had something happened to him that changed him for the worse?
I’m not suggesting that that the psychotic sociopath isn’t fun to read. But for me, I want that sociopath motivated. As I’m reading, I want to get in his head and pick his brain. Leaving a trail of bodies is all well and fine, but why is he leaving a trail of bodies in the first place? With proper, killer motivation, well-developed villains will go from one-dimensional to three-dimensional and become more believable and realistic. Now there’s a scary thought!
SHADOW OF VENGEANCE (Book 3 CORE Shadow Trilogy)
Welcome to Hell Week. You have seven days to find him…
At Wexman University, male students will do anything to get into a top fraternity. They’ll prove their worth during Hell Week by participating in various physical, psychological and even juvenile pranks. But those shenanigans aren’t so funny when pledges start disappearing. What kind of evil has stalked this small Michigan university for the past two decades? Theories range from obscene scientific experiments to grotesque satanic killings…but they’re all wrong. The murdered boys serve a single purpose…the ultimate revenge.
Rachel Davis, forensic computer analyst for the private investigation agency CORE, has been itching to leave her desk behind and work in the field. When her brother Sean, a student at Wexman, is found beaten and his roommate kidnapped during Hell Week, she gets her chance. Only her boss insists former U.S. Secret Service Agent, Owen Malcolm, helps her with the investigation. Owen is the last person she wants on this assignment. She’d been secretly half in love with him for over four years, until the night he’d crushed her ego and destroyed her hopes for any kind of future with him.
For his own reasons, Owen refuses to risk becoming involved with a coworker. Now that he and Rachel are stuck working side-by-side to solve this perverse investigation, he’s having a hard time fighting his attraction to her…an attraction he’s tried to deny from the moment they met. But time is ticking. They have seven days to find the missing pledge and catch a killer. Seven days before the body count rises and the pledge ends up another victim of Hell Week.
KRISTINE MASON BIO
I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was in my late twenties. Immediately hooked, I read a bazillion books before deciding to write one of my own. After the birth of my first son I needed something to keep my mind from turning to mush, and Sesame Street wasn’t cutting it. While that first book will never see the light of day, something good came from writing it. I realized my passion, and found a career I love.
When I’m not writing contemporary romances and dark, romantic suspense novels (or reading them!) I’m chasing after my four kids and two neurotic dogs.