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



  1. It seems to be a kind of trend with our group . . . trouble creating evil characters. LOL I wonder what that says about us? Your comment about how even upstanding families can have bad apples. The way each child responds to a situation is often completely different from their siblings. So, it’s all about how we internalize whatever happens in our lives. I think that’s why it’s so fun to write and create these different characters. We get to see the inner workings of how someone came to be who they are while not actually being that person.

    This post was thought-provoking. Thanks for the early morning philosophy. 😊

    1. Maybe we are all too well brought up to be 'good' people to create real villains!

  2. Hi Victoria, I, too, write in the Regency period and sometimes I struggle with the social mores - particularly the idea of any other person - slave, indentured servant, wife, child, sister, mother - as the possession of someone else or nearest male relative. I do see collective evil in society norms. Maybe it's not necessary to demonstrate it in a single character. anne

    1. I agree. Writing about servants/slaves and the necessity of having a husband are so alien to us now. I think that's why my Regency heroines are a bit out there.

  3. That was quite a carrot you dangled out there - what will Ruby do now? She sounds like an intriguing character. Flawed characters are so much more intriguing than pure and innocent.

    1. I actually feel sorry for her! Young and impressionable, she believed Andrew's promise of jewels from India. She lived her life while he was sailing backwards and forwards to England and other countries, but she always had those jewels in mind, especially 'a ruby as big as a pigeon's egg, just for you.' To not be presented with that after waiting ten years was a bitter pill to swallow!

  4. I'm intrigued by Ruby, your current baddie. I like her already!

  5. Victoria I agree that, perhaps, we were too well brought up to create evil characters. Since I was an introvert as a child and seldom spoke in class, I was used a a buffer. I was always sitting next to, or across from the 'problem child' in the classroom. How on earth did that poor soul manage to make such a mess of things?

  6. Definitions of good, bad, saintly, and evil differ greatly from person to person, but we all recognize it in writing. Good post,