AWD is excited to present today's first guest for Day 4 of the tour! Author P.R. Mason's wonderful guest post on villains and her recent release, Entanglements!
A Villain Who Thinks He's a Hero: Playing with History
Like many people no doubt, my life has been touched by a moment in time I would give anything to change. For me an ordinary day could have continued in its infinite ordinariness if not for the convergence of some relatively innocuous happenings that conspired to create a tragedy. As a result I've been fascinated by the idea of alternate worlds or universes and alternate history. What might have been if but one thread in the tapestry of time had been different. A yellow rather than blue. A coffee break not taken. A stop sign repaired rather than fallen.
ENTANGLEMENTS, my recent release, is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy about a teen who enters a dangerous alternate dimension to rescue her stepsister. In plotting the story, I knew the villain would be the "different" thread. He would be that point in the history of his world where its timeline of events diverged from the world we know. Much of Entanglements takes place in a dimension where history has taken an alternate path to that of our universe. I imagined a place largely frozen in Victorian times. It's a London where paranormal creatures abound.
I wanted to include a villain who's more than just a stock baddie. He had to be dark and evil, of course. But I didn't want him to be like a slasher movie automaton, acting inexplicably except for some psychopathically insane dementia. To me, an evildoer's far more insidious and scary if there's an understandable motive to his actions. So I set out to create a villain who's also a hero...or at least one who thinks he's a hero.
In researching Victorian England to come up with an historical figure that could serve as the basis for my villain, I sought to find someone who could have, if events were slightly different, come into a position of power and authority. The perfect candidate presented himself in the personage of His Royal Highness Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, the son of Britain's Queen. My decision to use Leopold was solidified when I learned he was afflicted with hemophilia, a genetic disease that prevents blood clotting and significantly shortens the life of a sufferer. Even a trip and fall can result in internal bleeding and death...which is what happened to Leopold in real life.
In my alternate history, the Queen, desperate to save her son, employs a wizard to find a cure. But this cure is less than successful and transforms Leopold into a vampire. The prince then sets about fathering a vampire aristocracy and gathering other paranormal creatures into his Empire
As a side note, a bit of unexpected synergy occurred in the selection of Leopold as the villain. One integral part of the Entanglements plot is that heroine, Kizzy, accidentally opens a vortex/portal to the Prince's world. In researching one such alleged vortex located in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, I discovered that the symbol purportedly drawn to open the portal was a swirling circle. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a glyph used by Queen Victoria included this same swirl.
As Entanglements begins, the human race is on the verge of extinction in Leopold's world. Even though "free-range" humans are being rounded up and put into a feedlot system, the food supply for Leopold and his subjects is dwindling. He views the heroine, Kizzy, as the key to opening the portal to our world for exploration and plundering. Obviously, Prince Leopold thinks he's the hero of the story.
At one point, Leopold asks: “Am I so very different from you, Kizzy? You do all you can to save your sister and your friends. I merely do all I can to save my people. I wish to prevent them from perishing in unspeakable agony. How can that be wrong?”
And to her surprise, Kizzy sort of understands his logic. She recognizes the morality of monsters feasting on human flesh and using their bones as toothpicks is relative.
I hope I achieved my goal of creating a heroic villain or villainous hero. One the reader can empathize with even as he scares them silly.