#Writing: Meredith Bond on Villains

Meredith Bond is my next guest blogger in my Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series. She’s here to talk about antagonists. For any of you who live in the Frederick, Maryland area, she’ll also be at the Frederick Book Festival this weekend. She’s leading a panel discussion on self-publishing, as well as doing a reading from one of her books. Today, she’s giving away a copy of Storm on the Horizon to one commenter and I’m also doing my usual giveaway for these “Spring Into Summer” posts — one book from my personal collection (US only). Welcome, Merry!

“Everybody has that warm, comforting, wonderful part to their personality…

Even the meanest, nastiest, most cruel villain.”

When I teach my beginning novel writing class, Chapter One, I always start with characters. They are, I feel, the most important thing in a novel. It’s characters who we fall in love with, care for and need to read through a book to make sure they’re going to be ok – if the writer has done their job well. But I don’t just focus on heroes and heroines in my class, I talk about villains (antagonists) too because they’re just as important if not more so, than protagonists (heroes).

I love antagonists. I love to think about what makes them tick. What makes them do what they do – which is to stop the hero from getting whatever it is that he needs to get. Anyone can be an antagonist – the sweetest, most wonderful little, old grandmother could be a child’s antagonist if what the child wants is a cookie, and she’s not letting him have one because there’s only half an hour until dinner.

But the most fun and wonderful antagonists are those who are just plain mean. All right, those who are nasty and cruel and heartless are fun too, but they’ve got to be mean, at least to my mind. But they can’t just be mean for being mean’s sake. They’ve got to be mean for a reason. They’ve got to have a really good reason for being that nasty to my hero (whom I love – always).

Not only do villains need a good reason to be mean, but they’ve got to have what one of my students called “fuzzy socks”. I love that term, and I use it all the time now. “Fuzzy socks” is that wonderful feeling you get on the coldest day of winter when you snuggle up with a pair of warm, fuzzy socks on your feet. You feel good. You feel warm and comforted. Everybody has that warm, comforting, wonderful part to their personality. Yes, everybody! Even the meanest, nastiest, most cruel villain. At some point in his life, he was loved or he loved someone – even if it was just his mother for the first few moments after his birth before she left him in a dumpster. It’s those “fuzzy socks” which I like to discover within my antagonists.

Storm on the HorizonIn my novel, Magic in the Storm, the villain is my hero’s mother, Tatiana – yes, his own mother who wanted to kill him just moments after his birth! Why? Because he was male, and she was expecting a girl. His father saves him, but his mother hates him and is horribly cruel to him for the rest of the poor guy’s life. But what made her that way? And what are her “fuzzy socks”? Where is the good in this villain? That’s what I set out to find when I began writing Storm on the Horizon.

It’s the story of Tatiana as a young woman, and how she meets and falls in love with the man who becomes her husband (the one who later saves his son from her wrath). We get to see who she is, what she’s like, and we get a glimpse of how she became the woman she is in Magic in the Storm.

Do you ever wonder what makes a villain who they are, or why they do all the horrible things they do?  Have you ever tried looking for someone’s “fuzzy socks”?  Please comment and one lucky person will win a copy of my novella Storm on the Horizon (it’s the prequel to Magic in the Storm, but you don’t have to have read one in order to enjoy the other).

More About Storm on the Horizon

Tatiana Ashurst has a secret – one that she cannot afford to be known to Georgian English society. But Kit Vallentyn discovers her hidden ability to wield infinitely powerful magic… and saves her from inadvertently revealing it to everyone. Tatiana knows it is impossible for her to marry him. But how can she help herself from becoming fascinated by this handsome man, who seems to extend a spell over her more powerful than any she can conjure?

Kit is out for a wife. His instinct, however, is to go through the mere motions of searching, just to please his ambitious father who wants a big dowry from the marriage. But the one woman who he can’t get out of his mind is the twin sister of the one his father wants him to marry – the one who is plain, penniless, ineligible… and enchanting in more ways than one.

For Kit and Tatiana to weather the storm of their desires, they have to peel away the layers of all of their secrets, to discover the simple truth of their love.

More About Meredith Bond

Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Her paranormal romances include Magic In The Storm, Storm on the Horizon, and “In A Beginning” (in the anthology Tales From The Mist). Her traditional Regencies include The Merry Men Quartet of which An Exotic Heir will be republished in March, 2013. Meredith also teaches writing. If you want a taste of her class, Chapter One is available at your favorite e-retailer.

Merry can be found online here:

Since I write about demons, I’m not so sure that *every* villain has a warm, comforting, and wonderful part to their personality, but I do like nuanced, complex characters. One of the things that appeals to me about my Noon Onyx series is that some of the characters that people might ordinarily assume are “bad” aren’t and vice versa. I imagine that characters, like real people, are usually neither all good, nor all bad, and that one shouldn’t be judged based on their blood or the group they were born into. Instead, characters and people should be judged based on their actions. Also, characters and people make mistakes.

Although some mistakes are forgivable and some are not.

What do YOU think? Do all villains have “fuzzy socks” and it’s just a matter of looking hard enough to find them? Or do you think that some villains are so cruel and twisted that they could not have ever been given “fuzzy socks” in the first place? (You know I’ll be thinking about this post next time I do laundry and match socks! 😀) Commenters will have a chance to win a copy of Storm on the Horizon and one book from my personal collection (includes Dark Light of Day!) Thank you for guest blogging, Merry!

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

6 thoughts on “#Writing: Meredith Bond on Villains

  1. Giveaway winners:

    bn100– you won a copy of Storm on the Horizon. Merry will be in touch with you to arrange delivery.

    Janice– you won a book from my personal collection. I’ll e-mail you the list.

  2. Hello Jill, Meredith! Re your question. I think of rakes and rogues being redeemed in romances, not villains. I think of villains as really evil doers who enjoy doing harm and creating mayhem just for the heck of it…because they like to see others squirm and squeal in fright. I guess it all depends on your definition of villain. To me, a villain is like Oil Can Harry in the cartoon Mighty Mouse (does anybody else remember that TV show?)–who kept being mean “no matter what.” I suppose if they underwent intensive therapy willingly they might be redeemable, but they rarely go willingly into therapy and usually skip it entirely. jdh2690@gmail.com

    1. Hi Janice! All good thoughts. And you’re right. It probably does depend on the type of story and how we define what a “villain” is. I tend to like antagonists who have their own motivations and who are doing whatever it is they’re doing for a purpose. I’m not sure I agree that “every villain is the hero of his own story” but I do think the best villains are as driven toward their goals as the heroes/heroines.

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