Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Oh, how I love a good villain! Whether I’m reading about one or watching him/her on film, or best of all—WRITING ONE!

What makes a good villain? Well, in my opinion, first and foremost he can’t be one-dimensional. I know in our “real world” there are those people that seem to be evil just for the sake of it and some of them probably are. But in our reading/writing, we want to know WHY. What made this person turn out like he did—a diabolical, cunning, demonic person that will stop at nothing to accomplish what he’s set out to do?

This leads to the question, is there anything at all that would stop him from carrying out his evil plans? Would a memory stop him, or trigger him? Would any one person be able to reason with him? Would a “new plan” divert him from carrying out the blueprint for disaster for the hero/heroine that he’s already come up with?
But there are other things that have to be reckoned with. Those things that might have happened to him in his past to create and mold him into the kind of person who would be so bold and determined to use anything—no matter how it hurts others—to his own advantage are important. But what are the factors that drive him presently? A circumstance of opportunity? A long-seated need for revenge and the path to that revenge being presented? Greed? Burning jealousy? Maybe even the death of a loved one that he may not have wanted to embarrass by his actions while they were still living—now that they’re gone, all bets are off!

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON has the heroine caught between a distant relative who throws her and her niece out of their home and the job as nursemaid she takes in Indian Territory, working for a man who is, at first, cold and unresponsive. The villain in this story shifts between the man who threw Julia out of her home to someone else who means to destroy her employer.

I’ve had so many villains I’ve created in my writing that were motivated by different things. My first one, Andrew Fallon, appeared in FIRE EYES. He was just pure evil. He didn’t care about anything or anyone—even his family, as his brother found out when he came looking for him.

In TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, the villain is paranormal—a demon who can shape-shift. How in the world will the innocents he’s after survive? They have a reluctant angel or two on their side, but the demon is powerful. Can they overcome his strength?

In my first contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, Tabor Hardin has his revenge handed to him on a silver platter, being in the right place at the right time to turn the tables on the undercover cop who put him in jail—before his escape. He’s a man with nothing to lose at this point, and Jesse Nightwalker, the cop, has a new life hovering on the horizon—if he can survive.

Greed comes in to play in BEYOND THE FIRE, when undercover DEA agent Jackson Taylor’s cover is blown and a drug lord comes after him, trying to use Jack’s undercover partner against him. But there is a secret that even Jack hasn’t known about his partner—and the woman he’s falling in love with. Is it enough to defeat the powerful drug cartel and keep Jackson, Kendi, and his partner safe?

Treachery comes in all forms and it’s most often quite a surprise. No matter how vigilant our heroes are, they come up against some very foreboding, sharp cunning from the villains—after all, they have to have a worthy opponent, right?

Speaking of worthy opponents, I’ll talk a little about my contemporary romantic suspense CAPTURE THE NIGHT—where the villain, Kieran McShane, runs his own rogue faction of the Irish Republican Army and plans to murder Great Britain’s Prime Minister while he’s on vacation in Dallas. Johnny Logan is an undercover Dallas cop, staying in the hotel as added protection for the prime minister; Alexa Bailey is treating herself to a one-year divorce anniversary vacation. When McShane takes over the entire hotel, it’s only a matter of time before he discovers them up on the roof in the maintenance housing—and collateral damage means nothing to him. With the hostages brought to the roof, McShane threatens to begin throwing them over one by one—unless his demands are met. Can Johnny and Alexa survive the whims of a madman, bent on political revenge?

One of my favorite recent stories is SABRINA, one of four novels that appears in the boxed set MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Four sisters are at the mercy of their stepfather who plans to sell them to the highest bidder now that their mother is dead. But these girls have other plans. Can they manage to get away? Will they be able to keep themselves safe from Josiah Bloodworth no matter how far away they go? This is a very fun set of four full length novels, each sister’s story penned by a different author. Livia Washburn Reasoner—Lizzy; Jacquie Rogers—Belle; Celia Yeary—Lola; and Cheryl Pierson—Sabrina.

Here's an excerpt of Sabrina facing down the villain, her stepfather, in the dressmaker's shop. Cam is listening to it all from the back, waiting for his chance to save her, his sister, and the proprietor of the shop. Here's what happens:

“So you see, dear Sabrina, you have no true choice about what you do—and neither do your sisters.” Bloodworth spread his hands as he spoke. “You will, indeed, come home to Pennsylvania from this godforsaken place and do exactly as you are told. You will marry a man—a proper gentleman—of my choosing.” He took a step closer to her.

She faced him unflinchingly, her head held high. “I will no more return to Philadelphia with you than fly to the moon. You would do well to carry your pompous, maggot-ridden self away from here and get as far east as you can go posthaste—before my husband returns for us—and sends you straight to hell.” She spoke as regally as a queen to the lowliest dregs of society, without a trace of fear.

A thin smile touched Bloodworth’s lips, but the calm iciness in his pale eyes was what put Cam on alert. This man was determined, and he believed no one could stop him.

His muscle-bound cohort stood near the door, keeping watch so that Bloodworth didn’t need to worry about any distractions—from the two other women, or from any of the townspeople.

“My dear Sabrina, you are most definitely going to do exactly as I tell you. Or else.”

“Else what? You’ll drag me back by my hair like the brute that you truly are?”

Bloodworth chuckled. “Well, well. Our little Sabrina has come into her own, hasn’t she?” He stroked his chin. “Actually, I don’t believe I shall have to drag you back. I think you most likely will do anything I say once I lay my hands on that half-breed husband of yours…even if I tell you to climb up on this counter and spread your legs like the whore you are…just like your mother was—”

The slap Sabrina gave Bloodworth echoed through the room, and brought a spot of blood to the corner of his mouth. Unruffled, he took out his handkerchief and dabbed at it.

“I’m going to kill your husband, Sabrina Rose. It will be a long…slow…and very, very painful death. And you will have only yourself to blame."

So many wonderful reasons for becoming a villain! The motivations are just endless, aren’t they? It’s a fine line to walk, making them evil, yet sympathetic in some instances, and letting our readers see a glimpse of their humanity—if they have any left.

Do you have a favorite villain you’ve written or read? What about your favorite film villain?





  1. Cheryl,

    Villains are my favorite to write. I also like the hero who has a hint of villainy in his personality - his “flaw” - that he battles and overcomes.

    1. I love villains, too, Kaye. Yes, the flaws are so wonderful to explore, aren't they? Unfortunately for my villains, they never overcome their flaws...SIGH.

  2. The one thing I know, from my work with juvenile delinquents, they believe what they are doing is the right thing. It may be wrong in the eyes of the world, but it their minds they are right/justified, etc. When that kind of villain shows up, I love it.

    I do love all the stories you listed. Such great reads. Doris

    1. Aw, thanks, Doris. I love villains--not in real life, but to write about and contemplate. What makes them tick? I bet your work was very interesting, but heartbreaking, as well. I can see how the younger kids that go down the wrong path would see that what they were doing, they were doing for the 'right' reasons, even if that wasn't really true.

  3. A good article, Cheryl. I like for heroes to have some flaws or weaknesses. They are not totally merciless, not totally consumed with evil, and aren't the toughest meanest, callous, immoralest, or rudest. My favorite villain was a Soviet Spetsnaz (the Soviet Special Forces) officer in mu co-authored "Target Texas," a WWIII techno-thriller. He was tough, out to hunt down American Rangers, proficient, and dedicated, but he got cold and hungry like anyone else, and though brutal, he had self-imposed lines he'd not cross.

    1. He sounds like my kind of villain, Gordo. I'm like you--I love a many-faceted character and I am always interested in why they chose the path the chose rather than something different--why did they choose to self-destruction, evil, cruelty rather than doing right and good? There's a poem out there that illustrates this so wonderfully. It's about two mothers talking about their children--Jesus and Judas. I'll post it if I can find it.

  4. I love this because it shows two viewpoints of mothers--both of them love their know the rest.

    Two Mothers

    Long time ago, so I have been told,
    Two angels once met on streets paved with gold.
    “By the stars in your crown,” said the one to the other
    “I see that on earth, you too, were a mother.

    And by, the blue-tinted halo you wear
    “You, too, have known sorrow and deepest despair…”
    “Ah yes,” she replied, “I once had a son,
    A sweet little lad, full of laughter and fun.”

    “But tell of your child.” “Oh, I knew I was blessed
    From the moment I first held him close to my breast,
    And my heart almost burst with the joy of that day.”
    “Ah, yes,” said the other, “I felt the same way.”

    The former continued: “The first steps he took-
    So eager and breathless; the sweet startled look
    Which came over his face – he trusted me so.”
    “Ah, yes,” said the other, “How well do I know”

    “But soon he had grown to a tall handsome boy,
    So stalwart and kind – and it gave me so much joy
    To have him just walk down the street by my side”
    “Ah yes, “said the other mother,
    “I felt the same pride.”

    “How often I shielded and spared him from pain
    And when he for others was so cruelly slain.
    When they crucified him – and they spat in his face
    How gladly would I have hung there in his place!”

    A moment of silence – “Oh then you are she –
    The mother of Christ”; and she fell on one knee.
    But the Blessed one raised her up, drawing her near,
    And kissed from the cheek of the woman, a tear.

    “Tell me the name of the son you love so,
    That I may share with your grief and your woe.”
    She lifted her eyes, looking straight at the other,
    “He was Judas Iscariot: I am his mother.”
    Author Unknown

  5. Oh, wow, that last stanza, so heartwrenching. I love poetry and I've written light poems and serious poems, quite a few published. It's easier for me to write poetry than create an evil villain. I admire authors like you, Cheryl, who can create such tortured villains. Mine, for the most part, have reasons why they behave as they do. I do know that they have to be strong and cunning to be a challenge for the hero. Probably the worst villain I've created is in my New Brunswick story, a mean, heartless father. Your Fallon is a great example of evil. My most memorable villain was Komarovsky in Dr. Zhivago, played by the incredible Rod Stewart. The movie followed the book meticulously, only changing the ending. It remains one of my top five movies/books. Another book/movie I love for different reasons, is Dances With Wolves. Oh my did I hate those soldiers when they beat up Lt. Dunbar, but even more so, when they shot Two Socks as well as Dunbar's horse. I was so ashamed and angry at two of those illiterate boors. As usual, I got long-winded with my comments. Love your writing, Cheryl. I have three of your books on the go, as well as a couple others. Just not enough hours in a day.

    1. Thank you, so much, Elizabeth. I appreciate the very very kind words! Oh, yes, Fallon was sooo awful. Made me wonder "What have I done?" LOL

      I know what you mean about Dances With Wolves and Dr. Zhivago, too. And I sure know what you mean about not enough hours in the day, too.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting (I love long comments!) And yes, that poem is just unforgettable once you've read it.

  6. Yay!
    yoo RITE!!
    Gotta lotta

  7. Maybe I'm a bit late to the party, but about villains- my movie one is the first and the best because he is in the first ever movie western I've ever seen - is Tuco. Villain form books- well, there is a writer James Carlos Blake. He had a book "Wildwood boys", very violent, very gritty with ending that can make you either throw away that book in disgust or howl with joy (I howled). So we have in that book a villain protagonist: good friend, good son, good brother, even a good husband, and a good horse-thief too. Bloody Bill Anderson.