Friday, 1 July 2016

Character: The Antagonists

Now it's back to writing about my writing process and it's time to focus on the antagonists I write.

It seems I don’t mind having male and female antagonists even though I’ve plumped so heavily for females in the protagonist camp.

Robert Deed (Six Dead Men)
Terence Ire (Six Dead Men)
Zaq (Where Rainbows Hide)
Irina Bushka (Where Rainbows Hide)
The Authorities (When Rainbows Cry)
Kastaspella aka Jocasta Incantata (Of Dragons & Witches series)
Grief/Brairton (Sharp Dark Things)

Robert Deed’s name in this list may well surprise you.  Let me explain.  To begin with, his main aim is to prove Madison Bricot guilty of her boyfriend’s murder.  The twists and turns of the plot however mean he ends up sharing protagonist status with Madison.  He ultimately has too sound a nature to be the villain and his role shifts to that of the main romantic interest.  But then, that was my aim all along, to trick the reader into thinking he was the enemy.

It is in fact Terence Ire who is the true villain of Six Dead Men.  He and Robert are two sides of the same coin.  I wanted a character that shared many of Robert’s traits but had a rough time in life and chose to use that as an excuse for his future actions.  He is a character most definitely born out of all the villains I’ve encountered in the crime dramas I watch on telly.  The list is endless.  I won’t go into it here.  It is a little worrying that I did not find Terence hard to write.

In my Rainbow series of science fiction novels, Zaq is a short lived antagonist but is crucial to plot development.  I liked the idea of having a completely obnoxious and unlikeable child genius character who Neera and her friend Chi have to tussle with on their journey.  So out popped Zaq.  He was fun to write and I could be as outrageous with him as I liked.

But he had to die because waiting in the wings was Irina Bushka.  With this character I wanted someone whose outer beauty belied the ugliness inside.  She has no terrible backstory to justify her actions.  Much like the Stazi or Mafia or Nazis, she does what she does and enjoys it far too much.  As with Terence Ire, I found writing Irina very easy.  There may well be a cruel streak lurking at the centre of my being which emerges whenever I get to write these characters.

In the second book of my Rainbow Series I opt to have the government as the antagonist.  This is most certainly born out of the fact that currently, governments around the world are making decisions I find difficult to fathom.  It’s my way of crying out at the injustice heaped upon the average person on a daily basis.  Through the book I can win out against the authorities and show there is always an alternative solution if only they’d give it a try.

Okay, rant over.

Now on to my dastardly witch Kastaspella.  Unlike Irina Bushka, Kastaspella most definitely has a backstory which is behind the way she behaves as she does.  She is the embodiment of all the young people I meet who are damaged by the circumstances they encounter on a daily basis.  Some of them find a way out of the madness and invent new lives for themselves.  Others do not.  Thankfully Kastaspella’s character has a way out and friends she is yet to make to help her along the way.

My final antagonist is grief.  The reason for this is most definitely the death of my parents and dealing with the emotions and fallout of it.  I began writing the book shortly after my mother died.  It is no accident Sharp Dark Things has a lot of fantasy content.  

Whenever I’m feeling particularly low, I turn to this genre for solace.  It takes me away from painful thoughts and the decision making process which becomes a person’s life when a much relied on love one dies.

In the fantasy (Faetaera) sections of the novel, grief takes on physical form in the shape of another extremely cruel and vicious creature – Brairton.  He is a cat-fairy hybrid.  I chose this shape for him because cats have an intrinsic cruelty.  We see it in the way they play with animals they’ve caught before they finally eat them.

All these characters share the desire to come between the protagonists and their ultimate goals.  They are there because without them the protagonists would not have the possibility of overcoming adversity.  When I write antagonists, my protagonists are sitting on my shoulder, whispering.  And whenever they shout an objection to my creation I know I’m on the right track because my antagonists are there to push the protagonists’ buttons and force them on to newer and better things.

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