I love villains. That is, I love fictional villains. I love dreaming them up. The real guys, though -- human villains -- not so much. My human suck-o-meter shot up sky high yesterday when I read of a singularly monstrous little bit of human suck, something I don't think I could even have dreamed up for one of my villains.
This is a slender loris, a nocturnal primate found only in Southern India and Sri Lanka. It's about the size of a chipmunk, with long, pencil-thin arms and big brown eyes. Cute. Unthreatening. And just the right size to be used as a living voodoo doll. Yeah, you heard that right. A living voodoo doll. Seriously, I have a limber imagination for villainy, but if I'd thought that idea up on my own I'd have felt icky in my skin. This is the sort of thing that informs my idea of my faerie characters' opinion of humanity. I wanted to show the world -- and us -- from the perspective of, well, the critters. The faeries serve as a kind of bad-ass embodiment of the spirit of nature, and they are not all that thrilled with us doing things like sticking needles in slender lorises. That's not what Blackbringer or Silksinger are about -- humans are pretty much in the background (for now) -- but it's very much in my mind as I builld my vision of the Dreamdark world and its villains.
Where DO ideas for villains come from? For me there are three main sources of inspiration:
1) Folklore. The collected weird imaginings of the whole world for all of history. Yeah.
2) Nature. Oooooh, the bizarre, the squishy, the predatory, the parasitic, the nasty beasties of the world!
3) Humans. The sucky ones. And there are plenty.
This is the topic of the panel I'm going to be on Friday July 27 at San Diego Comic-Con. I'm extremely excited about it -- it's a huge panel and I don't know if I'll get to say very much, but it will be very cool to be up there with, among others, Holly Black. Awesome!
4:30-5:30 Demons, Devils, and Evil Dictators—Come on, villains are the best. Devising new and unique demons and devils is one of the best parts of a fantasy writer's job. Learn about some of the participants' favorite villains and what inspires their own evil imaginings. Watch authors Jon Lewis and Derek Benz (Grey Griffins series), Holly Black (Spiderwick, Ironside), DJ MacHale ( Pendragon: Pilgrims of Rayne), James Owen (Here, There Be Dragons), Frank Beddor ( Looking Glass Wars), Laini Taylor (Fairies of Dreamdark), Rebecca Moesta ( Crystal Doors #2: Ocean Realm), Nancy Holder (The Rose Bride), and William Boniface (The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy) rub their hands and cackle gleefully. Room 1AB
There will be a signing after. If you're going to be at Comic-Con, please come say hello.
And the week after that, there is the FABULOUS SCBWI! I love this conference dearly, and have written about it here and here. If you want to write for children, or if you do write for children and want to meet others who do, and learn how to get better, and how to get published, you should go. It's that simple. Here's the info. Go.