Amanda Bonilla is celebrating the release of her new book, Blood Before Sunrise. She dropped by the virtual offices to share why she loves villains. Since a good villain can make or break a story, check out what she has to say.
Why I Love Villains: They’ve Got Swagger by Amanda Bonilla
Thanks so much to Julie and Manga Maniac Café for having me back! Besides being an action movie junkie, I absolutely love anything to do with super heroes. Needless to say, when The Avengers released in May, I was salivating to see it. What a great movie! Joss Whedon is completely brilliant. Despite the fact that The Avengers had an ensemble cast, in my opinion, Tom Hiddleston was the star of that movie. He played the role of super villain so well! He took arrogance to a new level and he ROCKED the super villain swagger. That’s what I love about villains: They’ve got swagger.
It’s not that I don’t think heroes are arrogant to some degree as well. If you could fly, shoot laser beams from your eyes, had super speed…strength…healing… you’d be pretty damned confident too. But villains aren’t just confident. They’re fanatical. How does that translate to arrogance? It’s their faith that they’ll achieve their goals. They don’t just think they’ll be successful. They know it. Writers want their readers to relate to the hero of the story. And to make the hero relatable, we have to showcase their emotional sides and we have to give them some kind of weakness. Be it a love interest, their undying compassion for the human race, adoptive parents, whatever. Or maybe the writer will simply plant a seed of doubt in the hero’s mind.
Villains check their emotions at the door. The truly effective villain isn’t swayed by compassion or love. My favorite villains are the ones who’ve been hurt somehow. They’ve experienced the ultimate betrayal. Whereas most characters would deal with their hurt and learn to move past it, the villain refuses to heal. He doesn’t want to feel better. He wants revenge, plain and simple. You hurt me, well, I’m gonna hurt you right back, only a million times worse! He doesn’t care who he mows down in his quest, be it man, woman, child, or beloved pet. A great villain has been driven to this point by his fanaticism. Nothing and no one will stand in his way. Effective villains own their scenes. They draw your undivided attention. A true villain has disconnected himself completely. His tunnel vision allows him to see only his goal and the one thing that stands in his way. Namely, the hero. But does the villain worry about that teeny, tiny obstacle? No way. Because his faith—his fanaticism—drives him.
So, at this point, it seems like nothing will deter the villain. He has no emotions, no connections to anything but his end goal. He doesn’t care who he kills or what he destroys in order to get what he wants. The villain doesn’t harbor the warm, squishy sentimentalities that our hero does. He walks the walk and talks the talk. He’s got the villain swagger down. He’s unstoppable…or at least, he believes he’s unstoppable. Just as the hero has a weakness, so must the villain. And at its core, his weakness comes from that exact same place that makes me love him so much. He doesn’t plan for defeat because defeat isn’t an option. No way. No how. Not gonna happen. And at that moment, when his arrogance has peaked, is when the villain falls. Unfortunately, swagger can only get you so far.
Who is your favorite villain? Why do you love him/her so much?
Thank you, Amanda! I love a wicked villain, too!
You can order Blood Before Sunrise and Shaedes of Gray from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital.