Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bad Boys in Fiction

Hi, my name is D.L. Jackson. I'm an author, daydreamer and worldbuilding fanatic. I'm thrilled to be here and I'm even more excited to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

The bad boys of fiction.

The bad boys of fiction come in all shapes and sizes. Some we love, some we love to hate, but all add that something extra to a story that keeps you turning the pages. Sometimes they’re the hero, sometimes an anti-hero or villain and when they're well developed, they can bring a novel to a whole different level.

Here are a few of my favorite bad boys from fiction.

We’ll start with Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars. Anakin was a slave who was freed, separated from his mother as a child and taken to another world to train to become a Jedi Knight. He later engages in a forbidden romance and secretly marries the love of his life. When he returns home, he learns his mother has been kidnapped by raiders and sets off to locate her. When he finds her, he’s too late to save her. Anakin destroys the village where she was being held hostage, killing every man, woman and child.

Even after he destroys them, he carries the guilt of his mother’s death instead of any regret for butchering the village and innocents caught in his path. He carries this guilt forward and it plays out later when he learns another he loves, Padme, will die in childbirth. He does everything he can to save her. He gives himself over to the dark powers of the force, turns his back on his friends, betrays the Jedi and murders young children in the Jedi temple. In the end, the power to save her costs him the one thing he couldn’t bear to lose, Padme Amidala. 

Young Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal rising is a classic socio-path the reader should have zero sympathy for. However, the way Thomas Harris writes Hannibal is brilliant and I found myself relating to Hannibal on a deeply emotional level. He’s a villain. He’s evil and yet you can’t help but sympathize with his plight.

Harris takes the reader through the metamorphosis of a young innocent to a monster. During the transition the reader can feel Hannibal's pain as he watches Nazi soldiers murder his mother and father and later murder and eat his baby sister. You see him as an orphan who is ostracized and as he grows into a troubled young man who moves in with his uncle and aunt. Later, when he finds those responsible for the deaths of his mother, father and sister, the reader understands the rage that drives him toward revenge.

Clyde Shelton. What can I say about Clyde? The recently released movie, Law Abiding Citizen, explores the dark side of a man who loses his family in a violent home invasion. Clyde is portrayed to be the victim, an innocent man caught up in a tragic situation, but that doesn't last for long.

When the law releases the man responsible for the deaths of Clyde Shelton’s wife and daughter by accepting a plea bargain, it triggers a chain of events that change our victim into an anti-hero. Clyde sets off on a mission not only to teach the men who killed his family a lesson, but to punish the legal system that failed him. We soon learn who Clyde is, how deep the darkness has seeped into his soul and how far a man will go for vengence. We see a once loving father and husband dismember a man while he’s alive, kill several people in car bombings and murder a judge with her own cell phone. We get a look inside the man who holds a city hostage with fear. Is he justified or wrong? Is any vigilante?

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. A well developed bad boy can make or break a story. They can be the hero, the villain or both. Regardless what role they play, they all have one thing in common. They have layers. So if you like bad-boys, hold on. I’ve got a bad boy for you.

Ian Saefa is an enforcer, a member of a corrupted legal system and a futuristic version of a bad cop. My goal when writing Slipping the Past, my urban fantasy erotic romance with Liquid Silver Books, was to give you a villain that was nearly as developed as the hero and heroine. Like the examples above, I wanted him to have layers. He doesn’t run around chuckling in a deep evil laugh, doing nefarious things just to do them. He has a method to his madness, a reason to be what he is.

That being said, I’ve included a few excerpts that feature Ian in his current incarnation and past lives. They peel back the layers and give you a deep glimpse into the mind of a serial killer and  a man that so desperately loved a woman, he would kill for her, again and again.

Here we meet Ian in a past-life as Justinus in ancient Rome. Below is a view through the heroine's eyes.

Justinus eyed her from across the room. Handsome, powerful and wealthy, everything she should desire. He’d been a friend from childhood. They used to sneak out and ride together, play in the fields and they even learned about sex together. He’d been her first and at one time she thought herself in love with him. But lately he’d taken on a serious air, watching her with hunger, always questioning where she went and with whom.

“Where were you this night, Jocasta? I came by earlier.”

She shrugged and twisted a beaded bracelet on her wrist, a trinket Augustus purchased for her earlier. “Taking in the celebration.”

“Did you attend with someone?”

She glanced up and caught the look in his eyes. Fire. Lust. Her stomach fluttered. “Alone.”

“You shouldn’t go out unescorted. A beautiful woman could find herself in trouble. I might lose you to another lover.”

Jocasta laughed. “You tease me, Justinus. You’re not my lover.”

“I tease not. I’ve asked your father for permission to marry you. He has agreed that the arrangement would be quite satisfactory.”

“Marriage?” Jocasta’s heart thumped in her chest. She could do worse. She cared deeply for him, but regardless she could never love him, not like the Centurion with the amber eyes.

He rose from where he’d reclined and walked toward her. “I’ve loved you all my life.”

She tipped her head back and stared into his face. “You’re my closest friend and I love you as such, but not as intimately as you profess.”

“I hope it will become so much more.” He knelt before her, pulled a bundle wrapped in bright fabric from the folds of his military tunic and held out a jeweled collar. “I’ve had this brought this all the way from Egypt for you. I’ve heard Cleopatra wore something very similar. Here, take it, a small token of my affections.”

Jocasta glanced down at the beaded bracelet she wore and back at the lapis and gold collar. “It’s lovely.”

He reached forward. “Lift your hair.”

Jocasta shook her head. “I can’t take that. I’ve fallen in love with another.”

Justinus’s glared and a tick pulsed in his jaw. His black eyes looked darker, full of rage. “Who?”

“Does it matter?”


“His name is Augustus. He’s a Centurion.”

“Augustus?” Justinus’s eyes fell, a frown creased his face. Pain burned across his countenance.

“Justinus?” There was more there than he was saying. “Do you know him?”

“He’s my brother. Anyone but him. I can’t kill him, but I can’t let you go either. I could never let you go.”

Ouch. Jilted for his brother, but is that a reason to carry a grudge for centuries? In Ian's mind--it is. This sets into motion a series of events that put Jocelyn Miller in danger of losing her soul.

Let’s move forward several lifetimes to Ian’s final incarnation and again we find ourselves in Jocelyn Miller’s head. She's now homeless and on the run for past-life crimes. If she's caught she won't lose her life, she'll lose her soul.

Yeah, the source. There was no way anyone would believe her over Enforcer Saefa. He was the best of the best, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t crazy and he wasn’t wrong.

She’d heard stories of the reading of her warrant and of Ian’s visit to the hospital nursery from her mother. Saefa had been fourteen at the time and was considered a prodigy. They claimed he was one hundred percent accurate when reading and not once had he been proven wrong.

He’d walked from basinet to basinet, studying each child, listening as they cried. A man followed behind him, recording everything he’d said. He’d stop every now and then to nod at a baby. Murderer, rapist, drug addict, he listed crime after crime in a cold tone, unconcerned those he accused were but days old and helpless to defend themselves.

Most he passed without mention, but when he’d reached her, he’d stopped, stood in place and stared down for over twenty minutes. When he began to speak he’d looked at her mother and smiled. “Murderess.”

You learn several things here. For one, the past hasn’t been kind to Ian and he’s got it in for Jocelyn. Not only that, he’s got power. Scary power. What you don't see in the excerpt--he’s a reader, a genetically enhanced psychic referred to as a reaper for his ability to take souls, but more than that, Ian has a special gift he might be using to frame Jocelyn. Did he fake the warrant or did she commit the crimes? Is it Karma?

One last scene, twenty six years later. Here we have Jocelyn caught out alone at night and who of all people do you think she bumps into on a dark street?

The barking dog began to howl, long and painful cries. Jocelyn stopped and tipped her head to listen. Animals were sensitive to energies. Even someone not attuned to the sound would know something wasn’t right. A charge raced across her skin and she turned to peer into the darkness. A streetlight overhead began to buzz and pop. The light flickered and shadows danced across the sidewalk at her feet.

“Hello?” Jocelyn let go of her jacket. Her gaze swept the empty street. The darkness appeared empty. Something told her it wasn’t. Psychic senses or not, someone watched. She shifted her weight to the balls of her feet and braced. Two ways to flee, both into the dark. She could make a run for the room, but something told her she wouldn’t make it. That something had the hair on the back of her neck standing on end and that hadn’t happened since she’d last blacked out.


“Who’s out there?” Either she was sensing energy, or she was spooked by the howling dog. Since it took a lot to scare her, Jocelyn bet on the other.

“Jocelyn Miller.” The voice. Deep, familiar and not Gabriel.

S*!#. That would be the other one. She took two steps back and a gust blasted her from behind, lifting her hair from her shoulders. She whipped around and stared into the dark. Ice pelted her face and stung her cheeks.

She couldn’t see their aura. When he took her energy, Gabriel rendered her vulnerable to the Enforcers. Gone was her ability to see and sense them coming, an ability she could really use right now.

“Identify yourself.”

Somebody tsked. “And I thought we had something going.”

“Who are you?”

“Don’t you recognize my aura?” A man slid out of the shadows and pulled a staff from behind his back. She knew the face and the brand that scarred the side of his cheek and neck. She didn’t need to see his aura. The wind caught his charcoal hair and whipped the loose strands around his face. He stood there smoking in his boots. Two words described him. Lethal and sex. He was far from ugly, but if a girl played with him, she’d end up dead.

Jocelyn instinctively took a step back. Cloaked head to toe in black, Ian represented evil to its fullest potential, and could make the devil rejoice. “Psycho reaper.”

“Hello, love.” Ian stepped closer and spun his staff. No sparks like before, but she knew they were there. Every time she’d ever seen him, he was awash in angry red. “You’ve been a bad, bad girl, Ms. Miller.”

Um, so he's not a toad. Ian is charming, attractive and dangerous. A lethal combination and a bad boy with lots of layers.

So there you have it, a glimpse at the villain and the bad-boy of Slipping the Past. For more Ian Saefa, Enforcers and reapers, check out my novel, Slipping the Past, available at Liquid Silver Books. http://liquidsilverbooks.com/

A big thanks goes out to the hosts of Paranormal Romantics for their hospitality and for letting me blog today with them. Thank you all and I hope I can blog again with you in the future.


D.L. Jackson


Annie Nicholas said...

Very nice post, DL. Welcome to PR. I do love an anti-hero.

Arlene said...

Yes, wonderful detail and thought you put into this post, Dawn.
I think one of my favorite bad guys can be recognized by:

"Frankly, my dear, I dont give a damn."

Slipping the Past is a great read, and Ian is an unforgettable villian right up there with the worst of them. I love him. Thanks for sharing, Dawn.

Rebecca Royce said...

I really love the fact that you set out to make a really well developed villian. I have this on my TBR and I can't wait to read it soon!

Thanks for blogging for me today!!

Susan E. Falk said...

So nice to read someone else "gets" the appeal of Hannibal Lecter. Unfortunately, I find some of Harris' writing sloppy (continuity errors abound throughout the 4 books), but he made someone who shouldn't have been anything but scary and humanized him in a way that we all get even if we've never been in the situation Lecter had.

D L Jackson said...

Absolutely, Susan. Hannibal is a sociopath. He's a killer, a cannibal and yet he's sympathic to the reader. I find that very compelling. Yes, I think we see a lot of errors in best seller's books because of the push to get them out the door. But the way Harris wrote Lecter was fantastic.
It hard to make a monster sympathic to the reader.

Rebecca, No, thanks for having me. I have a few of yours in my TBR as well. :)

Arlene, thanks for stopping by. Of course your input helped bring Ian to life and I can't do it without my IPs. You're the best.

Ann, I think I enjoy writing villians as much as my hero's and heroines. They can be a challenge. I think a sympathic villian can make the hero's struggles all the more difficult and increase tension in a novel.

Now, who are your favorites. Talk to me. Which bad boys are unforgettable to you and why?

Sandra Sookoo said...

Welcome to PR. I'm glad you've got a handle on anti-heroes. Mine is fighting me right now and apparently wants to be much worse than he's allowed to be LOL

Laurie Green said...

Great article, Dawn. Love the parallels you draw between Anakin Skywalker, Hannibal Lecter and Ian as characters. (Now there's a diverse trio of bad boys!)

J Hali said...

Hi, D L, didn't want to miss welcoming you and glad I didn't. Your story sounds very intriguing--great post.