Okay, I admit it. I have a villain problem.
No, not in the writing department. I'm pretty sure my villains are fully-functional, three-dimensional baddies. So what's my problem, you might ask? Well, here's the thing. I'm a romance writer. But the character I often find the most intriguing (um, especially if he happens to be both evil AND good-looking) is the guy who's working very hard to wreck it all, who thinks it would be the greatest thing ever if he could just thwart all of my beautiful, hearts-and-flowers-filled plans.
That's right. I suffer from villain love.
Snape's going to Avada Kedavra someone? Oh, I'm so there. Vic Von Doom's run off to blow up half the city? Out of my way, ladies (as long as he keeps looking like Julian McMahon, anyway)! Nasty things are afoot, and there's a villain who desperately needs my attention. Commodus needs a cool hand to soothe his fevered brow. Boromir could use something to distract him from that darned Ring. Lucius Malfoy so obviously just needs someone to talk to (and possibly toy with all that gorgeous hair).
I know I'm not the only one who's ever been ensnared by the character who by all rights ought to be the "anti-catch." Come on, now...who among you really thought Christine should end up with boring old Raoul? It's not the good guy we're meant to root for there, not really. It's the tortured soul in the basement, the one with the voice of an angel and the ever-increasing body count. He's fascinating. He's magnetic. He's beautiful.
He's also homicidal.
But do I still root for Eric to win every time? You bet. Hey, one of these days, it might just happen. Even when I'm not exactly rooting for the hero's number one problem, though, I'm often deliciously intrigued. What makes him so twisted? How does he justify his means to an end? And, in my case, there's almost always a "Hmm...I wonder if all he really needs is the love of a good woman?"
It's that pesky "romance writer" thing again, you know.
As we were blogging about characterization last week and the one before it, there was some discussion about the power of redemption, about how that arc is so wonderfully appealing when we're dealing with our characters. That, I think, is what draws me to the baddest of the bad. The possibilities for redemption are endless, and make my romantic's heart go pitty-pat more often than not. Would love change him? Could he be made to see and regret the error of his ways?
Can we somehow get around that little issue of his possible psychosis?
I tend to pick up my pen (or my laptop) and try to find out. The allure of the villain, for me, is in the challenge of taking all of the strength that makes him such a formidable adversary and turning it in an entirely different direction. I already know that the next book I tackle is going to feature a villain who becomes a hero, not the easiest path by far. But no matter how much fun I have with my knights in shining armor (and I do love them, don't get me wrong!), there's always going to be the part of me that wants to head for the black knight with the broken sword, help him up, and give him a chance to discover what he might have been.
So now it's your turn to confess...who are your favorite villains? What about them do you find so fascinating? And who would you redeem if you could?