Well booknerds, now that all the books in The Monster of Selkirk have been released and the final book has been out for over a month, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about how I created Tallis’s villains, particularly her ultimate foe which gets introduced in the 5th book in the series: Urban. If you haven’t caught up yet, don’t worry, I’ll avoid plot based spoilers so you you’ll be safe to read on. However, if you want to wait to catch up on the books before reading, that’s fine too! You can get the books here, or signed copies from my Etsy store, which ever you prefer! But now, allow me to share a bit as to why I created villains that were more relatable, or sympathetic, instead of the stereotypical mustache twirling bad guy.
For me, personally, I love reading books where the antagonist is more complex than someone who merely wants to watch the world burn because of reasons. You see it a lot in some of the Marvel movies, where the bad guys want ultimate power so obviously the only way to get that is to destroy the world. That can be fun and exciting, sure, but I like reading about deeper villains, which is why I did my best to create complex villains as well. This is where Urban comes in. Urban is deeply religious, his mother was an acolyte of sorts in the service of the human god. He loves his religion, he believes in its teachings full-heartedly, so much so that when his psychosis grips him, that yearning for his god gets severely twisted and is turned into a destructive religious fanaticism.
Even if you aren’t religious or don’t believe in god, I think everyone can kind of empathize, or at least understand, someone’s desire to know that their prayers are heard, that there is a reason for their struggles, or that there is indeed a purpose or plan for them and their place in the world at large. This kind of desire spans most religions too; it’s that comforting belief that an all-powerful, all knowing entity is looking out for you and there is a reason behind all the good, or bad, in your life. For characters like Tomas, these type of thoughts help bolster is faith, but for Urban, it took the darker path. It became a desperation to bring their god to earth so that they could converse with this entity, that he could become his prophet, and end the prolonged silence the humans have had when praying. Urban doesn’t yearn for ultimate power, riches, or glory, he has no desire to watch the world burn just for evils’ sake. Urban’s extreme faith, coupled with the illness lurking within him, propels him to seek out god, despite the fact that no mortal could ever understand the reasons for such an entities silence when it comes to their creations.
Knowing Urban’s motivations made it all the easier to craft the kinds of interactions he had with other characters, both those who yearn for their god the way he does and would be tempted by his fanaticism, and those who don’t feel nearly as strongly as Urban does, or whose faith is strong enough to not be tempted by Urban to begin with. It made him a villain people could understand, even in the fantasy setting. His wants and desires are pretty universal. It also adds a sympathetic layer to him, one that makes Tallis’s guilt surrounding the whole Urban situation understandable. And, for some people and characters, makes him a person that many would want to see saved or redeemed, or, on the other spectrum, have him succeed in his plans.
Villains, like the monsters I talked about in April’s blog post, can be complex, multi-dimensional creatures that make you feel uncomfortable because you can relate to them—maybe, depends on the monster. Good villains are ones that you love to hate, but they can also be ones you understand and that a little part of you wants to see succeed, even if the method in which they go about things is evil. They make, in my opinion, for far more interesting reads, even if the story they inhabit isn’t the most original I’ve ever read. Also, I happen to have the most fun writing complex villains that serve more of a purpose than just an obstacle to the main character on their path toward achieving whatever goal they set out to do. Hopefully I have succeeded in doing that with Urban, but be sure to read the “Wrath of Silence” and let me know!