When I think of villains, three kinds immediately spring to my mind, all of which were brilliantly depicted in the Harry Potter series. You have the exaggerated pure evil of Lord Voldemort, the shiny veneer of a conniving man like Lucius Malfoy, and of course the relatively normal villainy of a weak-willed man like Peter Pettigrew. There are dozens more, of course, but it’s late Sunday evening when I’m writing this and I have a migraine. Maybe migraines can be my fourth kind of evil?
I got to thinking about villains because I’m working on Misguided Confession, a story which features Elaine Gibbs from the Blackbird series, along with a very interesting baddie named Ezekiel. He’s a combination of shiny seductive and extraordinarily ordinary. You don’t look at him immediately and think bad guy, until he opens his mouth.
He’s a priest with an over-inflated sense of his own importance. He believes in his mission with a dangerous zealot-like intensity. He manages to seem absolutely charming, genuine and caring while being none of those things.
If Ezekiel had a super power, it would be manipulation. He manages to pull people into his group who would follow him into death. It’s disturbing.
The best villains, I think, feel real. I can imagine Ezekiel walking the streets of London. Men (and women) like him do exist in the world. History is full of them. It’s what makes him even creepier.
So what makes a good villain to you?