Shari Elder (@ShariElderBooks) Stops by to Talk Villains!
Menage a Villain
I love a good villain, don’t you?
But they can be so hard to find! The best villains don’t see themselves as villains and it is this moral blind spot that enables their evil. Their ability to nuance their ethics – make their actions understandable, even sympathetic, is what makes them so downright scary. Like lovers, villains make our hero and/or heroine a better person by forcing them to confront and overcome their weaknesses, while surviving in the face of endless challenges.
Looking at the villains I can’t forget, I see a set of common characteristics:
- They are on a mission, even if we don’t agree with it.
- They often lead a pack. Their ability to motivate their people, care for them even if that care is twisted, reveals that nuanced reality.
- Their words, mannerisms, looks, intellect, all would be drop dead sexy if their bad wasn’t so truly bad.
My two hands down favorites are Hans Gruber, excellently depicted by Alan Rickman, in the film Die Hard and John Harrison/Khan, played to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek into Darkness.
Hans Gruber glides off the elevator in a custom-tailored, Savile Row suit, followed by a horde of to-die-for bad boys in tight black t-shirts to execute the ultimate burglary. Within minutes on the screen, he had me at, “I could talk about men’s fashion and industrialization all day but I’m afraid work must intrude.” He is clever, quick, charming and a total snake.
Cumberbatch’s Khan is convinced of the rightness of his superiority. As ruthless as he is, he had my heart clenching in my chest when he admitted his commitment to his crew. Remember this line? “My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?”
A family man, but also a cold-blooded ruthless psychopath. Who didn’t shiver when he said to Spock, “I will target your life support systems located behind the aft nacelle. And after every single person aboard your ship suffocates, I will walk over your cold corpses to recover my people.”
Gotta love him. So, when I write villains these are my role models, what I aspire to create.
In my latest release, Race to Redemption, my goal is to build an equally nuanced villain. Tij Pardahl is an alien species, which is gender neutral at rest, but shifts into male or female during sex. They socially organize in threesomes. I show Tij’s complexity through the love scenes—nurturing protectiveness yet with ruthless chill. I actually hadn’t planned to do it that way, but Tij insisted. Characters do want their own way.
Who are your favorite villains?
Race to Redemption Blurb
A woman who lost everything.
Intergalactic storm racing champion Elaina Carteret had it all – fame, wealth, men – until a horrific accident took it away. To get it back, she agrees to pose as Lainie Carter, medical transport pilot and corporate spy. Her risk-taking attitude infuriates Dr. Erik Johansen, who runs the outpost with an iron hand, a permanent scowl and the tightest bod on the planet.
A man desperate for redemption.
Unable to forgive himself for a past tragedy, Erik works himself into an early grave. He has no patience for the insubordinate Lainie Carter, who can’t take an order, disrupts routine and flames his body to ash.
A planet at risk.
When the outpost is attached, they’re thrown together in a race across the desert to stop a deadly biogenetic weapon As a fragile trust blossoms between two damaged hearts, their pasts resurface and threaten their growing bond.
Be warned: anal sex, bondage, menage sex, gender neutral characters.
About Shari Elder
Hello, I’m Shari. By day, I crawl out of bed, mainline coffee, walk the dog, get my kid off to school, hop on the metro, and save cities within the four walls of my office. Usually by email.
At night, the other Shari emerges. I take off the suit, curl up on the couch and let my imagination play, with words and images until stories take shape (while periodically checking on my teen-ager, hiding out in the bedroom and plotting world domination). As my alter ego, I save cities in a cape and spangled tights, wander space and time on a surfboard, fly over the Himalayas on feathered wings, make six-toed footprints in indigo talc snow on the sixth planet in the Andromeda galaxy or eavesdrop on Olympian gods while pretending to whip up a bowl of ambrosia.
In all these wondrous worlds, romance and passion blossom. I can’t resist a happy ending. And I am particularly prone to writing happy endings for those who have given up on ever getting one. That gives me immense satisfaction.
Join me on my journey. The best ideas emerge from team work.