Behind the Bad Guy’s Eyes

By Super Shane Wolfram

Writing books is hard. It gets even harder when you add more complications to the situation. You know, things like world catastrophe in a real-world setting. As we’re writing these books, Frankie keeps looking at me and going, “Did you research that? Is that real?” How am I supposed to know if it’s real? I haven’t detonated a bomb. Ever. I can say one thing for sure, I’m never getting a top-secret clearance. I’ve got to be on the FBI’s watchlist just based on my Google searches alone.

When we started Origins, things were simple. We had witches, demons, and angels. I sincerely thought we’d limit things to that. Frankie said no. She’s not a limiter. “It’s not our job to keep it simple. It’s our job to tell great stories, so if it makes sense to add something in, the world will support it. Tell the story, Shane.” After that, the world exploded into the mythos, shifters, magick delineations, and realms of existence and all of them have to live seamlessly alongside the witches, demons, and angels.

With all that said, Para Wars is even more complicated. It’s written in multiple points of view (POVs), and not all of them are the good guys. I think this decision was made so we could rapidly ramp up the tension before our main characters even knew that they should be watching for the slim knife in the ribs. I mean, Frankie told me why. I might have been listening to her explanation about as well as she listens to me describing why the new engine I installed in her truck didn’t work. The multiple POVs make these last three books read faaaaaast.

Besides, if we told the entire story from a single POV, the books would take three times as long, and the ring would never get back to Mordor. Too much walking.

Making Villains Interesting

Anyhoo, when writing the villains, we had the added challenge of making them interesting enough to go toe-to-toe with our heroes and have good reason for it. Frankie seems to be able to just do this. She breathes, and it happens. Me? I had to dig a little deeper.

So, I used a few basics like jealousy, revenge, power, and the occasional I-thought-I-was-the-good-guy as the villainy reasons to be bad guys. All of them are good points. The behind-the-scenes building of a villain is somewhat more complicated than your average hero, something I didn’t quite realize at first. The hero sees a right and a wrong situation, and generally heads to the not wrong side of the equation.

Our bad guys see any situation through a different lens. Can I make it worse to see what happens? Is this going to get me more influence in a place I have none? Does this forward my revenge on someone who richly deserves it? And sometimes, as Frankie has pointed out numerous times, they’ll see the right and the wrong answers and go with what they see as right, even though the hero might not agree. Why? It’s all based on their values. Sometimes, the only difference between a hero and a villain is what they find value in. Villains are often heroes of their own story.

I like my heroes and I want them all to be challenged but unharmed. That, however, is boring. Challenged and seeing friends and family die because they couldn’t do anything about it? That’s a crucible that keeps forging them, and it makes them better characters in the next book.

Even if it is a bit harder to write and sleep at night.

Multiple POVs

Our multiple POV campaign in the final books also lets us explore some of the new spin-offs in the Whiskey-verse. Not letting any spoilers out, but a few of the POV’s you’ll read in Slipping on Karma Peels, Eye of the Saber, and Breaking Whiskey are slated for their own series while Dexx and Paige keep the macro-verse together and running smoothly in the background.

Frankie and I had many discussions about how we should handle these last books and the multiple POVs was the best way we had to tell the richest story with the greatest impact, and I have to say, it’s been a pure pleasure to write them. Digging behind the mind walls of our villains has only helped enrich the stories.  

We hope you enjoy.

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