Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Baddie in Books

 For this month, Robin has asked us to describe a flawed or evil character we have or might use in a story. How did they become so flawed? What part will they play in the story and what will happen to them?

I always have trouble creating evil characters. I would say that most have mine have been flawed in some way rather than truly evil. Except for, maybe, Sir Peregrine Styles in my first Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress. Sir Peregrine was very much a depraved character, particularly in the satisfaction he derived from causing pain or trouble to others. He was a narcissist, manipulator, and opportunist all rolled into one character but none of that was greatly surprising given the era and the mores of the strata of society he grew up in.

People being people, and our characters are people if only in our minds and books, good and bad can come from anywhere. The best of families could have one bad apple. A family in the poorest area of town may have a dad with a heart of gold and a mum who will do anything for her children first and her neighbours after that.

People can and do change. Rose of Sharon in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath spring to mind.

Circumstances can mold a person. Disappointment after disappointment may eventually turn a happy, positive person bitter and cause them to seek revenge against those he or she believes responsible. Being brought up in an abusive household may produce an abuser or someone who would never lift a finger against another person.

As authors, building the backstory for a flawed or evil character is as intriguing and circuitous as those of our main characters and, dare I say, might take a bit more of a psychological twist. Writing historical fiction means dipping into the social history of the period whether, in my case, it is the Regency or Edwardian eras. The class structure was pretty much adhered to. People ‘knew their place.’ But within that structure, the mores of the Regency became stricter through the Victorian era and began to ease again in the Edwardian era, especially the La Belle Epoch era in Europe which dated from the early 1870s up until the outbreak of World War 1.

Regency characters who held ambitions to rise above their place in society might be referred to as ‘mushrooms.’ The term ‘nabob,’ originally denoting an official under the Mughal Empire, came to be used somewhat derisively for a pretentious person, especially one growing his own wealth rather than inheriting it. After all, the definition of a gentleman then was someone who did not work for his living but off the wealth generated by his estates.

My current ‘baddie’ is one Ruby Baker in the third book, Phoebe Fisher, in my series Those Regency Belles. Ruby is a barmaid with took my hero’s promises to heart. In a drunken moment as an eighteen-year-old and about to embark on his first voyage, Andrew promised to bring her jewels from India. Ten years later, Ruby arrives on his doorstep to collect them. Why such a time span? Well, a voyage to India could take a minimum of four months. Depending on what happened during the voyage, pirates, storms, being blown off course, it could take a year. And then you turned around and possibly faced the same problems on the return journey. That was without any other detours. However, now Andrew has inherited a title and gained a wife. What will Ruby do? I’m still working on that.

Visit my fellow authors listed here and see what they are working on.

Anne Stenhouse

Dr. Bob Rich

Connie Vines

Skye Taylor

Marci Baun

Diane Bator

Rhobin L Courtright