Friday, October 19, 2018

Best Monsters and Villains and How it Inspires a Hero

It’s true. I enjoy a good villain.

Lord Voldemort. The Wicked Queen.

Loki.

A haunted house.

The very best villains and monsters, in my opinion, are those that have a rich backstory. A thick history of what led them to their evil ways and devious deeds. Characteristics that make them human, sympathetic, even relatable.

With Lord Voldemort, we see a childhood of abandonment, abuse, loss and grief. The inability to fit in, make friends and identify with a family. These issues are paralleled in the series hero, Harry Potter. Despite the comparisons, the two make very different choices in life. Choices which result in building of character, love, compassion and family for one – and ultimate defeat for the other.

Loki also found himself at a crisis of identity when he realizes his father is not his biological father, his brother, not his biological brother. He feels inferior, and turns to anarchy to make up for his anger and hurt.

Haunted houses, like Hill House or the hotel in The Shining, are malevolent forces, basically mysteries that we cannot solve or even pinpoint. We only know they are working against our heroes in the story, that something terrible must have happened many years ago within those walls.

I think it is human nature to want to know what makes a person or entity go bad. What I write, especially in middle grade fiction, includes villains like crooks or misbehaving house-pets. A cat who feels mistreated and lashes out, a rat who has felt ostracized and unloved so he wreaks havoc, a pack of dogs who enjoy terrorizing the smaller of the food chain for fun and power. It is up to the heroes in my novels to deal and cope with these villains, not just in the opposing forces of animals they meet, but also that of general evil in the world. The events we cannot control. Sickness, job loss, changes in a community or in a family situation.

I think if readers, especially young readers, can see how a hero in a novel deals with wrongdoing and evil, they can apply it to their own lives. And, in turn, see how they themselves can be the hero in their own life. They may not all be Harry Potter, or Ace the Cat, but they are the main characters in their very own life story. If they see their favorite characters succeed, I think it inspires them to also aim for that goal. Stories have power. Stories have relation.

Stories are human.

Even monsters.

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. That's interesting. Usually we focus on what makes a hero--but there is something really interesting about what makes someone become a villain, too.

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