Friday, 7 December 2012

Talking about villains...

I've got Diane Burton on the blog today. 
She's brought along a treat from her recent release - The Pilot and she's got a lovely topic for us - the ones we all love to hate...yet maybe don't always want to!

 Nancy, thanks so much for having me here today.


Everybody writes about heroes so I thought I’d be different. I love a good villain. Okay, I really hate evil, but I enjoy stories and movies with good villains. A “good villain” sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? What I mean is that the villain is strong enough and clever enough to challenge the hero. And he always thinks he’s smarter.

A good villain should have a reason for doing bad things. He’s out for revenge for some horrible incident that happened either to him or to a loved one, or he’s trying to right a wrong. Although the last might be laudable, his method of going about it isn’t. I know there are evil people in real life, as well as in fiction, who do evil deeds because they can or for fun (their idea of fun). I don’t enjoy those bad guys. Hannibal Lector creeps me out to the point that I won’t ever see Silence of the Lambs. The trailers were enough, thank you very much. I know some people like psychological dramas about psychotics. Not me.

Since movies are more universally recognized, I like to use them as examples. Some of the villains in James Bond movies were quite good—others were just weird (A View to a Kill). World domination (Never Say Never)? That seems so extreme it’s hard to believe. Greed (Goldfinger)? Hey, we see that all the time in the headlines, especially after the 2008 financial meltdown here in the U.S. Revenge (License to Kill and Goldeneye)? Very understandable.

I really like a story where the bad guy isn’t revealed until the end. For that reason, I love mysteries and suspense. It’s fun to see if I can catch the misdirection and not be taken in by it. I like to match wits with the author and see if I can figure out the bad guy before s/he is revealed. A movie that had me guessing right up until the end was Charade. Even though you’re supposed to believe one person is the villain, come on. Cary Grant as a bad guy? I don’t think so. Or how about a bad guy whom you’re led to believe is helping the good guy (or woman)? Wait Until Dark was scary because the viewer knew who the villain was, but the heroine didn’t.

Because I enjoy sci-fi movies, the all-time bad guy on my list is Darth Vader. He seems so totally evil in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Gradually, starting in The Empire Strikes Back, you see he still has a bit of a conscience when he tries to bargain with the Emperor for Luke’s life—“He’s just a boy” and “If he could be turned . . .” While I have to say I didn’t enjoy the second three movies (the prequels), George Lukas did such a good job showing Anakin/Vader’s descent into the Dark Side that he was understandable. Now if only he hadn’t killed the younglings . . .

How do things end for the bad guy? The hero defeats him, of course. Up close and personal. No sniper shot knocking off the villain. It’s a down and dirty fight to the finish. In Bond films, the end is often spectacular and gruesome (Live and Let Die or Tomorrow Never Dies). But sometimes the villain can be redeemed as in The Return of the Jedi. I wanted to stand up and cheer when Vader picked up the Emperor and threw him down the reactor shaft. A fitting end to a truly evil villain. And redemption for a bad guy. Did saving his son make up for all the evil he’d done? That’s a question best left to those who ponder morality. It made for good fiction.

Defeating bad guys makes good heroes. If your hero isn’t Bond (who always wins), s/he has to grow from the beginning of the story to the end. At the beginning, the hero isn’t strong enough. Watching the hero as she tackles smaller feats and grows more confident until she can stand up to the villain makes the story more satisfying. Think about Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars movie. Eager, green, he would have been destroyed immediately if he’d encountered Darth Vader. Only by going through various trials—each more difficult than the previous—that he is strong enough with the Force (and his own confidence) that he can defeat the Emperor. The same could be said about the hero in my latest sci-fi romance, The Pilot. At the beginning, Celara is so frightened by the villain’s reputation she’ll go out of her way to avoid running into him or his henchmen. She needs a good reason for even thinking about going after him and the hero gives it to her—to rescue her brother.

What do you think makes a great villain? Who in books or movies exemplifies this?

Blurb for The Pilot:

There's no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d'Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster.

In this excerpt from The Pilot, Trevarr tries to convince Celara’s to help him to find the villain.

Blurb for The Pilot:

There's no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d'Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster.

In this excerpt from The Pilot, Trevarr tries to convince Celara’s to help him to find the villain.

“I would like to make you an offer. I need to talk to Hallart.”
“You can’t be serious.” Space jocks—including her—took huge detours to avoid running into Hallart’s territory, or his men.
“I assure you, when it comes to Hallart, I am deadly serious.” His piercing eyes gave her pause.
“If you find him—and that’s a big if, Admin Man—you can forget about being serious. You’ll just be dead. Forget it. I don’t have a death wish. I am not helping you find the biggest gangster in the galaxy.”
“In the galaxy? You exaggerate his importance.”
“That’s because you don’t know him, Admin Man. He would kill his own mother if he could make a profit.”
Darkness crossed Jovano’s eyes. His brow furrowed. He probably didn’t believe her so she added, “I heard he did kill his mother. Father, too. And his siblings. Ask him. Right before he rips your heart out of your chest and slices it while you watch.”
“You fear him.”
“Any sane person is afraid of Hallart. So, the answer is no. A resounding No.” She didn’t even want to think about associating with criminals like Hallart. Quintall couldn’t be one of them.
When Jovano didn’t continue, she added, “Hallart is into some very bad stuff. He’s a slaver. He runs dust and outlawed weapons. I even heard a rumor he was behind the assassination attempt on the Coalition President last year. She wasn’t the prez yet, but you know who I mean.”
He grew very still. A muscle along his jaw started to twitch. “It is not a rumor.”
“Yeah, well. The assassin missed and offed some unlucky fem who got—” At his fierce look, her voice trailed off. “. . . in . . . the . . . way.”
“Unlucky?” His quiet tone frightened her. “The fem did not just get in the way. She was protecting President Filana.”
Celara shrugged. “Well, you’re Coalition. Guess you’d know about that.”
After staring at her in silence, he said, “Yes. I would know about that.”
What just happened? What caused such a look of desolation in his eyes?
“I want you to put me in touch with your brother.” His voice had returned to its natural timbre, almost conversational, and Celara thought she had been mistaken about what she’d seen in his eyes a moment before. “He is a sure way to contact Hallart.”
Jovano was wrong. He had to be.

The Pilot is available at

See Diane’s website for other sites that sell The Pilot and Diane’s other books.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Diane can be found around the Internet at:

Thank you for sharing The Pilot, and your villains today, Diane. It's always a pleasure to have you visit. Best wishes for great sales.



  1. Nancy, thanks so much for having me today. And best wishes on your new release. I love the cover.

    1. Hi Diane, I'm so sorry there's been no comments so far, though lots of people have viewed today.Hopefully later. :-)

  2. Hi, Diane. It's now past 11 o'clcok evening for me and I'm about to sign off for the night. I'm no joking in the least but the stats say 89 so people have been looking today! Thank you for visiting me.

  3. Hi Diane! It's been such a hectic Friday. I've looked at this blog post three times today (so I'm probably 3 or 4 out of the 89) but finally got the chance to actually READ it! I've loved every excerpt you've offered on your tour, and I'm sure I'll love the book. Congrats! I know it will do well.

    1. Hello, Patricia! I'm so glad you've commented, today. I'm sure Diane's book will do well. It's now close to midnight for me and I'm 'done in'. My thanks to those who stopped by!

    2. My thanks, too. I wasn't feeling well last night & went to be early. Nice to wake up to Patty's comments and yours, Nancy. Thanks again for having me here today...or yesterday. :)

  4. I've loved the Star Wars movies since they came out while I was in HS. I guess that dates me.

    I think the best villains are the one that seem to have the upper hand, and the hero/heroine, who's usually the underdog, can't win. Then you cheer all the harder when the hero/heroine does win.

    Great post. Good luck with your release.


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